San Diego pushes forward with plans to make contractors disclose border wall affiliation

The eight prototype border wall sections in Otay Mesa shortly after contractors finished construction.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego City Council will keep moving forward with its plan to require contractors to disclose whether they work on President Trump’s border wall.

At a budget committee meeting this week, council members voted 3 to 1 to have city officials draft an ordinance that would require contractors competing for city projects to disclose any past, present or planned bids, or actual work on parts of the president’s promised border wall.

It was not clear from the decision whether that disclosure might affect a contractor’s ability to get city work or whether the city might publish a list of contractors who have connections to the wall.


“Trump’s border wall does nothing to promote San Diego’s robust economy and our positive international ties with Mexico,” said Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry. “Our region is stronger because of our cross-border exchange with our neighbors to the south.”

Councilman Chris Ward said he knows of at least one company that made a bid on border wall construction that may end up working on a major construction project for the city.

A spokesman for Councilwoman Georgette Gómez, who has led the city’s push against the proposed border wall, said she is happy to see the city moving forward.

Councilman Chris Cate was the lone vote against the move. He called the idea a “bad precedent” meant to shame employers and employees.

“These folks rely on jobs to provide for their families,” Cate said.

During the meeting, the committee reviewed approaches that other cities have taken to show opposition to the promised wall along the Southwest border. The report, presented by Jeff Kawar of the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, was the result of a resolution that the council passed in September.

Kawar said of the six cities with similar resolutions that his office studied, Oakland had the most aggressive rules. That city requires contractors to file a statement that they have not and will not seek work on the border wall.

Los Angeles, he said, requires contractors to explain any affiliation with the wall and keeps those filings as public record.

Other cities are still debating how they will enact such ordinances and whether they should include only work on actual border wall projects, such as the prototypes at Otay Mesa, or also include other fencing replacement work.

Benjamin Prado of the American Friends Service Committee, the only member of the public to address the committee over the border wall issue, urged the city to publish a list of contractors who have border wall affiliations.

Paige Folkman, a deputy city attorney, cautioned the committee that asking companies to disclose information about border wall participation might open the city up to litigation risks. She said the city attorney’s office would have to work closely with other departments to review ordinance plans for legal concerns.

“This is not a slam dunk,” Folkman said.

Morrissey writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.