2016 Election: Sarah Saez on Issues that Matter to BikeSD Supporters in District 9

Our board sent questionaires to candidates running for city council and we will be posting their responses here. Sarah Saez is running to replace Councilmember Marti Emerald who currently represents District 9.Our endorsements will be posted later today.

Sarah Saez. Photo via Saez’s website.

1) How do you envision the growth of cycling in San Diego – be it for transportation, recreation, or otherwise? Do you see cycling as a community builder?

I would like to see the growth of cycling in different aspects of people’s lives. In my community of District 9 we have a lot of health issues so biking for health would be really important. District 9, especially City Heights and other neighborhoods south of El Cajon Blvd., are low ­income communities where the residents often have two to three jobs just to get by. What I would also like to see is more high quality jobs in our neighborhoods so that one, residents can commute to work on their bikes daily and two, residents can have enough time from work to bike themselves and with their families recreationally. Idealy residents will live and work closeby. If not I would like to see infrastructure that’s built to facilitate longer commutes that is safe and convenient for riders. I think Bike San Diego’s vision of making San Diego one of the top 15 cities for biking can be realized if we take a integrative and community based approach to growing cycling in San Diego.

2) What steps must be taken to ensure the success of San Diego’s “Vision Zero” goals – and what action will you take to deliver on D9 “VZ” corridors, El Cajon Blvd and University Avenue?

Ensuring that Vision Zero is implemented is specifically included on my platform. Four of the most dangerous corridors run through District 9, University Avenue, El Cajon Blvd, Euclid and Imperial Avenue. The steps that must be taken to ensure that Vision Zero is a success is first money allocated in the budget to provide the needed infrastructure to fix dangerous intersections and build new bike lanes, road diets, crosswalks and other public improvements to lower speeding. We also need funding for training both the public and public safety personnel. I will take action not only on budget allocation but also by ensuring that the Vision Zero committee is set up to guide the process including that the Pedestrian Master Plan is updated adequately and other policies are amended and adopted accordingly.

3) Do you support the Kensington-Talmadge Community Planning Group desire to add a right-turn lane on El Cajon Blvd at Fairmont Ave, eliminating a planned traffic calming feature (sidewalk bulb-out)? Do you desire to see more or less traffic calming along highly traveled D9 corridors?

I would like to see more traffic calming along highly traveled D9 corridors since it results  in increased safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s unfortunate the the right turn lane that the Kensington­-Talmadge Community Planning Group wants would prevent the sidewalk bulb­out from happening. I do not support the lane and hope the planning group is able to consult with the organizations who had already planned for the traffic calming feature to be installed.

4) Will you support more road-diets like that on Fairmont Avenue in City Heights? Is ‘Level-of-Service’ a satisfactory traffic measure when weighing improvements in neighborhood safety?

Yes I support road-diets on Farimount Avenue which is  a block away from my house. Level­of­Service is not a satisfactory traffic measure when weighing improvements in neighborhood safety. I support the statewide amendments to Level of Service, SB743, as outline in Vision Zero.

5) Given the myriad of competing interests in D9 neighborhoods, how will you handle individuals and groups, alike, whose interests and actions run counter to the City’s transportation and street design goals as laid out in the Climate Action Plan, and Vision Zero initiative?

As part of my Masters degree I received training in consensus organizing which enables stakeholders to come together to find and develop areas of mutual self interest. It doesn’t always result in consensus but there are areas where, through dialog, a common understanding can be met. When it can not be met it has to be understood that the two plans that have been adopted by the City to both reduce the effects of climate change and road fatalities, take priority but we have to make sure that one, there is broad public support for these plans so that it is easier to effectively organize when it comes to a competing interest that is blocking implementation. We have to make sure that our communities are educated and invested and ready to advocate for implementation of these plans.

6) Multiple studies have shown that increased bicycle accessibility, is good for local businesses – and that this even holds true when on-street parking is reduced. How can the information gap between advocates and businesses be bridged to advance our common interests of safe, thriving neighborhoods? Further, at which point do you say to those who refuse to engage as responsible and reasonable partners in the community’s progress, that the cycle of arguments must end so we may act for the common good?

It sounds straightforward but the best way to bridge the information gap between advocates and businesses is to provide the information, the data, that shows that bike accessibility will be good for their businesses. I’m not sure if it’s already been done already, but I would create a marketing pitch or presentation that outlines the data behind it and examples in other parts of San Diego or cities that have been successful.

Just like in my last answer, I believe that at first we should always try to come to consensus. When consensus organizing fails and consensus can not be reached is the point when you say that the arguments must end and you do what you can to build popular support in the community to implement the changes they want to see in their neighborhood. This is more of a Saul Alinsky method of community organizing where after trying to work within the system but when that doesn’t work, to take radical change against the status quo, you must have a mass of people not necessarily on the front lines of the fight (people are busy) but at least aware and in favor of change. I would like to do what I can to help diversity across race, gender and class lines and build the bike movement so that’s possible.

7) What (if any) plans and decisions, with respect to increasing cycling accessibility, have been made in the past by government agencies and elected officials that you disagree with? Did you make public that disagreement? And do you see an opportunity, if elected, to reverse it?

The most recent example I have spoken out publically about has been regarding 54th  street safety improvements in City Heights that the community has been asking for many years but have never been prioritized. They’re finally being done but after the loss of lives. Another decision that has been made that I disagreed with and have been vocal about is the SANDAG Regional Transportation Plan that helps to increase freeways while putting off real progress for transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure for 35 years.

8) Will you support the implementation of the 2011 San Diego Bicycle Master Plan Update, including budgetary requirements for its completion and success?


9) If you have one, share a favorite cycling memory – and let us know how it shapes your desire to see safe streets in San Diego for all residents, across generations?

It’s not a favorite cycling memory but it does shape my desire to see safe streets and it’s the fact that as a resident of City Heights I do not feel safe riding my bike down the streets around me, mostly University and El Cajon Blvd. I’m lucky enough to live a few blocks from where I work and can bike and walk there through Fairmount Avenue or 43rd but otherwise I don’t feel safe. That’s not acceptable. I want to make sure that everyone feels safe riding their bikes in our district, most importantly our children and will do everything I can to make that happen.

10) Finally – If elected, will you commit to meeting with BikeSD representatives on a regular basis to continue the dialog around improving all D9 neighborhoods, and making San Diego the world’s greatest city for cycling?

Absolutely! You’re the experts. My passion has been around poverty alleviation and the working poor but I care very much about cycling as these two causes intersect. I look forward to working to make San Diego the world’s greatest city for cycling and I will depend on everything BikeSD brings to help us get there.