Cory Briggs runs for mayor of San Diego

"The city does victory laps all the time on stuff that doesn’t get fulfilled “

Briggs: “Hoteliers are making money and renting rooms because our city is so wonderful that people want to come here."
  • Briggs: “Hoteliers are making money and renting rooms because our city is so wonderful that people want to come here."

The white board in the conference room behind Cory Briggs tells the story: On one side, in green ink it says:

  • Donor class v. voter class
  • What does it mean to stand up for working people?

On the right side, it says Budget Priorities.These are key ideas behind this run for mayor of San Diego.

Cory for Mayor campaign photo. "I have to win voters’ trust."

Cory for Mayor campaign photo. "I have to win voters’ trust."

When Cory Briggs first announced he would run for mayor – in a tweet the day after Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s state of the city speech – only the twitter-verse noticed. Many shrugged it off – it was hard to believe that the lawyer who’s sued the crap out of the city over and over would want to be the face of said city.

“I meant it and I said why in the tweet,” Briggs said in an interview on Thursday. “The mayor’s speech was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve been fighting these knuckleheads at city hall since 2002 and they just do one dumb thing after another.”

The mayor's speech, wherein he seemed to recite developers’ wish lists, mentioning in passing the city’s $2,8 billion pension deficit, was applauded by most attendees, including some of Briggs' longtime allies.

Briggs saw it differently.

”I agree with what most of these folks are trying to accomplish. We don’t have different goals. But at some point you have talk about how we’re going to implement it and how we’re going to pay for it. You can’t just get someone to adopt your policy and go home and claim victory – the city does victory laps all the time on stuff that doesn’t get fulfilled.

“We have a homelessness crisis, a genuine crisis where people died because they couldn’t wash their hands after they went to the bathroom,” he says. “I don’t know what crisis is solved by borrowing millions to build a parking structure in Balboa Park. That’s a pet project for the donor class.”

“You’ve got to stop the draining of affordable housing. It makes no sense to tear down 14 units and get 12 back. It doesn’t do any good to get rid of 20 to get 15. In the very least there has to be no net loss,” Briggs says. “We’ve got to get rid of in-lieu fees (developers pay so they don’t have to add affordable homes on site); they are a fraction of what it costs to build. You lose all the (existing) units and end up with enough money to build a dinky, tiny fraction of that. We have to make developers build on site.

“Last year, a study by the feds concluded that if you increase the supply of housing in a neighborhood by 20 percent, you’ll get less than a 2 percent drop in housing price,” he says. “The quality of the neighborhoods is what drives up the price.”

“Transit comes first,” he says. “Transit doesn’t work until it works so well people can count on it and it’s the easiest way to go somewhere. It will take a decade to get there and, until then, people still have to be able to get to work, pick up their kids and go to the doctor, live their lives. We shouldn’t make that harder.”

“The management and policy levels of these organizations don’t work,” he says. “I want to know how their plans will bring affordable housing to San Diego. The housing commission doesn’t even know how much affordable housing we already have.”

“Our creditors know we’re in trouble,” he says. “The deficit is more than half the city budget for a year. At what point do regulators decide we can’t continue to rack up this debt? If we continue to pretend we’re paying down the deficit when we’re not, we’re going to be San Bernardino.”

And then he says the T word. Only it’s Tax with Transient Occupancy in front.

“We’re going to have to raise taxes. The question is who is it going to be on. It ought to be on tourists. Our TOT is too low and we’re leaving money on the table,” he says. “Hoteliers are making money and renting rooms because our city is so wonderful that people want to come here. They are making money off of us.”

Does he think he can win?

“I’m a long shot. I have to win voters’ trust," he says mildly. He says he is heartened by Councilwoman Georgette Gomez’s recent speech where she reminded the city council that it drives policy and plans, that the power rests with the council. "The mayor is the executive branch, the implementer and face of the city. But the power is with the council," he says.

Reporter’s note: Plenty of people will have thoughts on Cory’s announcement – other opinions have not been included here. This interview is intended to start a conversation, and opposition can access a multitude of platforms to respond.

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I agree with Cory's general assessment, the following article about secrecy in city government was picked up by multiple publications, this version is with Times of San Diego edits:

“Hoteliers are making money and renting rooms because our city is so wonderful that people want to come here. They are making money off of us.” It is sad that the hoteliers are making money by paying low wages and low/no benefits. A majority of hotel (restaurant and retail) workers are eligible for welfare benefits. The taxpayer is supplementing the profits by providing the benefits that should be provided by the employer.

The tourists don't get treated any better; they pay high rates for rooms in old and run-down motels in Mission Valley, or even higher rates for the fancy new hotels downtown. You gotta want to see San Diego to pay those rates, yet what do many get? Overpriced Zoo, Safari Park, and Sea World tickets, and streets full of homeless.


The mayor's speech, wherein he seemed to recite developers’ wish lists, mentioning in passing the city’s $2,8 billion pension deficit, was applauded by most attendees,

What you might find interesting is something directly related,... a recent front page article in the UT about an annual 13th pension check which has been paid out for decades,... but the thing not mentioned in that news article is that policy is based on "bad math" which the city council looked at and acknowledged.

Have a look at the look at the PDF document (link below) which shows the front page news article, a simple explanation of the problem, then lastly the "highlighted" document that I found while googling which explicitly states local politicians and bureaucracy acknowledged the way the portfolio is setup/managed wasn't math kosher, yet the annual 13th pension checks still keep on happening!

One unanswered "simple" question remains,... who gets stuck with paying the big clean up bill for the basic "bad math" error which continues to create ever growing public pension debt.

If you think a 13th public pension check isn't all the big a deal, perhaps you might want to consider the fact that Detroit had a pension system w/ a 13th public pension check feature,... and look at Detroit now (i.e. that city is recovering from going bankrupt)

NOTE in the “highlighted” PDF of the UT article I've linked to, it mentions a “watchdog” analysis calculation of $200 million

The UT watchdog analysis caught my eye because it seems pretty darn low?!

The reason for this gut reaction is because if the 13th public pension check program started back in 1980 AND during the time frame from 1980 to 2011 bonds and equities achieved many annual double digit returns

So looking at historical market average returns,… tells me the sum would have grown to much more than $200 million if it were invested over three decades when the market returns were favorable.

Said another way,… if the money spent on annual 13th checks would have been instead reinvested to help offset the city’s pension obligation,... the debt burden on taxpayers would be significantly lower.

This is the best news—and best candidate—since Donna Frye ran for mayor.

There's a saying that you can know a person better by the enemies they make than the friends they keep. In Cory's case, the former would be the corrupt cronies entrenched in both parties, who will stoop to anything and stop at nothing to keep their gravy train rolling.

Which leads me to wonder: is he running as a Democrat, or an independent?

Yes, this announcement is great news. He's not one of the local political hacks who says one thing and does another. Cory is remarkably consistent in his criticism of the slobberin' city council and government.

But, Cassander, surely you know that city office is non-partisan, and has been for a century. What he calls himself is irrelevant, whether Dem, GOP, AIP, P&F, Green or independent.

Visduh: While there is truth in your statement, the reality is the “machines” behind both parties CLEARLY endorse, select, and underwrite, the office seeker who is most aligned with their views/goals. Ya gotta tow the party line if you want their dime.

True, so true. There was a reason that local elections were made non-partisan in California, and that was to keep local matters local, and not to drag them along in state and federal controversies. But today the parties do definitely intrude into the local elections. I don't know which is worse: pretending that local elections are totally non-partisan, or just letting the parties intrude into local matters at and and all levels. (BTW, I still find it jarring, when visiting New Mexico, to see election posters for local judges showing them running as Democrats, or occasionally, Republicans. There was a practice in most places to at least pretend that judges were not partisan. But then, when there's only one party in the county or state, does that matter?)

Final point: I think that the term is "toe the party line", as in placing ones toes on the line drawn in the sand by the party bosses. But, hey, towing the line, if it drags things along may make sense too.

My question is a bit academic, as I wouldn't care if he ran as a CNP candidate. I am curious for the reasons JustWondering mentions, and because it would energize the debate with the leading faux populists, Bry and Gloria, over who best represents the principles of the Democratic Party, rather than unnecessarily cede that ground to them.

JustWondering, is there ultimately much difference between the goals of the two local parties? The donor class (Jacobs family etc) supports both parties to make sure they get to play as they will with our city. Todd Gloria would undoubtedly be more or less Faulconer's third term, which was Saunders next term etc. They essentially hire the same people and pander to the same lobbyists and their clients. They throw a few socially liberal tidbits to give the impression they are doing something that matters, but ultimately they are there to keep the status quo for the folks who really run the city.
Jumping in the race when he did and why he did indicates the depth of Cory's understanding of what it means for the Democrats and Republicans to unite in giving away the city to the developers, both using the cynical developer tool of YIMBYism. Cory is the ultimate outsider who deeply sees how the inside works. Exciting to have him in the race!

I believe everyone on this thread supports Cory for perhaps different reasons but please keep in mind the $64,000 question that being is Mr. Briggs electable going toe to toe with the patron Saint from Hillcrest--"The Great Todd" and the little lady from La Jolla a well connected, well oiled insider to the Democratic Party? The answer is yes with a reserved caveat. Briggs as Mayor Mo did 35 years ago must organize a massive volunteer presence in order to mold a perception of invincibility. I urge everyone of you to volunteer now, not tomorrow but now!! I've been involved in San Diego politics since 1967. We can do this! The local San Diego Democratic Party of which I was elected years ago is as corrupt as they come. It's time that we mobilize now! Danny 858 220 4613

Mayor Mo didn't turn out very well. The majority of the politicians elected in San Diego were and are crooks.

If you mean her gambling addiction and financial affairs, in the main you are correct except not to make excuses but J David was worse under Hedgecock. O'Connor had her heart in the people, that is certain. She would be labeled as politically incorrect in today's San Diego Democratic Party, an organization of political prostitutes, sexually correct candidates, elites, charlatans and circus barkers. We must stop these abject fools at all cost!

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