Written by Brandon Lee Romo
Recently elected Mayor of San Diego, Todd Gloria, is now being faced with his first big standoff in office. Gloria and Democrats on the City Council are battling over the length of a new deal for the city’s gas and electric supply. The deal is a franchise fee agreement that would grant a utility company access to build and maintain poles, power lines, and gas pipes on public land throughout the county.
For Gloria to pass his desired 20-year deal (10 years followed by an automatic 10-year renewal) he would need a City Council supermajority vote (⅔ or 6 votes). The issue for him is that City Council members Joe LaCava, Sean Elo-Rivera, Marni Von Wilpert, and Monica Montgomery expressed to Gloria that they want the contract to be no more than five years. These four opposing members are enough to completely shut down Gloria’s proposed contract as soon as bidding opens on April 16.
These four Democrats are following a blueprint that has been trending in other cities; keeping the deals short term is thought to allow the cities more leverage over the utilities. The idea of the city taking over the cost of providing energy entirely is also in question, which is thought to give the city even more leverage over SDG&E.
This dispute within the Democratic party is occurring at the expense of city residents’ future gas and electric utility plans and prices. Mayor Gloria and the Democrat-controlled city council need to come to an agreement soon because every day San Diegans are the ones who bear the consequences of this standoff.