As the San Diego City Council prepared to vote on a budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, residents were given the opportunity to provide feedback with many expressing outrage over the proposed $27 million budget increase for the San Diego Police Department. The city received 4,000 emails, and hundreds of calls urging the council to reject an increase for the SDPD.
The volume of callers was so excessive that at one point it caused the city's phone system crash. Most callers asked for the SDPD to be "defunded." They also implored the council to reallocate the proposed increase to support homeless outreach, rent-assistance programs, mental health services, and race equity.
Late Monday night, the San Diego City Council approved the city's 2020-2021 fiscal budget which included an increase for the police department bringing their total operating budget to $566 million, which represents roughly one-third of the city's general fund.
Following the vote, dozens of protesters gathered outside of the mayor's home, to express their disappointment.
In his Daily Media Briefing, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer explained that the city's budget is shaped by "this historic time in which we live," and that it will focus on the real and immediate needs facing San Diegans, with the essential priorities being small business relief, sheltering and housing the homeless, childcare, the city's climate action plan, parks and recreation centers, library access, and deliver internet access to low-income communities.
In response to the debate over SDPD funding, Mayor Faulconer said that the increase is intended for pre-approved raises and expenditures that will keep San Diegans safe. He also announced that an Office on Race and Equity, which was proposed by Councilwoman Monica Montgomery has his full support.
"As elected officials, we must honestly and genuinely address the root causes of the local protests — the inequity in enforcement and the systemic racism that is prevalent in our region," Montgomery said. "From the beginning of my administration, I have championed a holistic approach to reform measures, including economic justice components. This new Office on Race and Equity is another step in the right direction, along with other reform measures."
The city of San Diego is facing a $350 million dollar deficit (the largest is in its history), and the 2020-20
Meanwhile, marches and protests against police brutality and racism are ongoing in the county.