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The Candidates State Their Cases. 2nd Council District : RON ROBERTS

Incumbent Ron Roberts, 49, is an architect and a former partner at SGPA, a major San Diego architectural firm. He was elected to the City Council in 1987. Roberts has a master’s degree from UC Berkeley. He lives in Mission Hills.

Stretching from Nestor to the La Jolla foothills, it is no exaggeration to say that District 2 “has it all.”

District 2 contains our beach communities, Mission Bay and San Diego Bay, and protecting them is basic to San Diego’s lifestyle. District 2 contains downtown, the heart of any cogent growth-management plan that halts urban sprawl while safeguarding our economy. Our district contains major regional facilities: the Point Loma sewage plant and the airport.

We have made progress in all of these areas. A few examples: My proposal for a new Otay Mesa airport has advanced into the master planning stage, a first for a region that has delayed for decades a decision on this critical issue. A new sewage system is being developed that will reclaim millions of gallons of water. And downtown revitalization continues.

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But I would like to focus on another issue, crime, because of its overriding importance to virtually every San Diegan.

Far too often, politicians throw up their hands in the face of crime. They are prone to say, “Nothing can be done until we get at the roots of the problem.”

It is obvious that we must attack the profound social problems spawning youth gangs and drug abuse. That is why I support the city’s Neighborhood Pride and Protection Plan, including its provisions that upgrade city services to at-risk youth and increase the number of police on foot patrols.

But there are other steps we can take to make our streets safer. Our response to gang activities in Mission Beach and Mission Bay this year proves the point.

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Early in the spring, as gangs from all over the region were carving their turf in Mission Beach parking lots, police moved their mobile substation to the South Mission Beach jetty.

In Mission Beach, violence broke out in the Ventura Cove parking lots, which had become gathering places for youth from all over Southern California. We closed the lots at night, enacted the modified beach booze ban and beefed up police beach patrols.

Though most beach arrests involved those who had been drinking, opponents of even the modified ban--fired up by the liquor lobby--cried foul.

But look at the results:

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The beaches quieted, the boardwalks and the sand were taken back by families.

Critics called this a “quick fix,” but they always do whenever the stick, instead of the carrot, is used.

In this regard, nothing threatens public safety more than the county’s failure to provide adequate jail space, flooding our streets with criminals who are treated instead like scofflaws. That’s why the city is opening the state’s first privately operated municipal jail.

I have consistently voted to expand the police force, and will continue to do so. But let’s recognize that our officers are frustrated when other criminal justice functions--jail and courts--fail.

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We must direct our dollars toward repair of this system. For this reason, I helped fend off the proposed cuts to the city attorney’s office criminal division that is breaking new ground in its prosecution of domestic violence cases.

We are installing a new public safety dispatch system, and I have championed a new regional crime laboratory to reduce the time detectives must spend identifying criminals. Another simple, common-sense step should be the installation of white street lights in high-crime areas.

The conclusion is clear: There is more that we can do, without busting our budgets or asking unreasonable sacrifices from our taxpayers. The steps we take must be framed by common sense and a sense of priority.

They will make all the communities of our city safer.

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