COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | LORI HOLT PFEILER

Help choose the future of San Diego

Now through Tuesday, we all have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to voice our choice for the region’s future. By participating, you will help create a 50- to 100-year collective, strategic vision and action plan for the San Diego region that reflects the priorities and values of today’s residents.

How? By taking an online survey at www.showyourlovesd.org.

Why? For so many reasons.

In 40 years, the regional population will grow by 40 percent, with two-thirds of that growth being our children and grandchildren. To accommodate the growth, we will need 500,000 new homes and 400,000 new jobs.

Will our children and grandchildren be able to afford a home? Will they be able to find high-paying jobs? Will they be educated for the jobs of tomorrow?

Many of us share these concerns. That is why The San Diego Foundation, along with a broad coalition of partners, has invested immense time and effort to create Our Greater San Diego Vision, an unprecedented public engagement process to create a shared vision and action plan for the future.

The initiative began with public opinion research in 2010, in which San Diegans listed job creation as the top priority for the region. The same research showed that residents ranked lack of jobs and low wages as the second most important factor impacting their personal quality of life.

In 2010, San Diego County’s unemployment rate of 10.6 percent was its highest level in more than 30 years. Imagine what San Diego’s future would look like if the population continued to grow without a plan to create the needed housing and jobs.

Where will nearly half a million jobs come from? What kinds of jobs do we need? What sectors of our economy should we focus on to create them? Where should new jobs be located?

There are several different approaches to economic development that this region can take. One approach is the continued expansion of our existing major industries. San Diego is more fortunate than most regions in having three industries that bring money to the region — the military, the innovation sector, and conventions and tourism. For every job created in these three core industries, two more are created in other sectors to support them.

A second approach is the expansion of one of the region’s three major industries, the innovation industry. San Diego is already one of the nation’s leaders in innovation. Expanding this industry would create more jobs in various sectors, including clean tech, defense and security, high-tech manufacturing, life sciences, biomimicry, and wireless, to name a few.

A third approach is to develop a fourth major industry that can bring investment into San Diego. We already benefit from the military, the innovation sector, and convention and tourism. What other industry would suit San Diego and become a major economic cornerstone?

You can also choose whether we should focus on supporting our local-serving businesses, or if we should focus on creating a globally competitive mega-region with Imperial County and Baja California Norte.

It’s easy to voice your choice.

The interactive website offers four modules. The employment and economic development topic is found under the Work module, and there are also Enjoy, Live, and Learn modules in which you can have a say on where we should build homes, schools and community amenities, in addition to where job centers will be located.

More than 12,000 San Diegans have already shared their priorities, hopes and concerns for the region. Please join them and help shape the future for the benefit of tomorrow’s residents.

Visit www.showyourlovesd.org and voice your choice to ensure the region is able to sustain prosperity as we see significant growth. Ensure that our children and grandchildren will be able to find jobs and afford to live in San Diego. I love San Diego, and I know you do, too. So help preserve and protect what we love and create a vision of what is needed to keep the region thriving.

Lori Holt Pfeiler is former mayor of Escondido, immediate past chair of SANDAG and vice president of Our Greater San Diego Vision, a major initiative of The San Diego Foundation.

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