Our Community

San Diego District 3

San Diego City Council District 3 includes these great places:

  • Balboa Park
  • Bankers Hill/Park West
  • Downtown
  • Golden Hill
  • Hillcrest
  • Little Italy
  • Middletown
  • Mission Hills
  • Normal Heights
  • North Park
  • Old Town
  • South Park
  • University Heights
Source: City of San Diego
Source: City of San Diego



“Stephen is the partner I need to help address our homelessness crisis. His decades of experience and leadership have prepared him for the challenges our city is facing. I fully support Stephen Whitburn for San Diego City Council.”

-Nathan Fletcher | County Supervisor

My #1 priority will be solving our homelessness crisis

Our District 3 neighborhoods are at the epicenter of San Diego’s homelessness crisis. As your councilmember, my #1 priority will be ending homelessness in our neighborhoods, parks, and canyons.

We have a moral obligation to help our brothers and sisters who are suffering on the streets. It is also a quality-of-life issue for our neighborhoods. I’ll ensure we’re at the forefront of resolving this humanitarian crisis.

I will take the lead on implementing San Diego’s new Community Action Plan on Homelessness.  We must provide people who are homeless with housing and the services they need. We can – and we will – end this tragedy.

I will take the lead on implementing these measures

·         Ask social workers, not police officers, to perform outreach to the homeless. Social workers are better equipped to successfully connect people to the housing and services they need. We need police officers available to respond to calls.

·         Better coordinate services among nonprofits to more effectively end homelessness. Different organizations work with specific issues or groups of people. Coordinating their services would more efficiently help people get back on their feet.

·         Prevent many individuals from becoming homeless in the first place by providing short-term rent assistance to people facing eviction due to temporary hardships. This is more cost-effective than creating housing for someone who is homeless.

·         Quickly add more short-term housing by using available state grant funds to purchase inexpensive motels and provide rooms for people who are currently on the streets. Hundreds of new housing units can be available within months.

·         Partner with San Diego County to provide both housing and mental health services to unsheltered individuals with psychiatric or addiction disorders. Housing and treatment are often both necessary to help people get off the streets.

·         Once people are housed and healthy, provide job training, interview preparation, employment placement, and ongoing support as needed to help people get back on their feet, reintegrate into the community, become self-supporting.



Quality of life starts with housing

People in District 3 who love their neighborhoods should be able to keep living here. Sadly, we’ve seen longtime residents move away because they could no longer afford housing. Over the past 20 years here, rent has risen six times faster than incomes. A survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found 58% of San Diegans were financially strained by the cost of housing – a higher percentage than even San Francisco or Los Angeles.

I will work to make sure San Diego has homes affordable to everyone. This includes housing reserved for people with low incomes as well as homes for workers with moderate incomes so people can live closer to where they work, reducing commute times and traffic congestion.

I will take the following actions to help San Diegans afford housing

  • Support the San Diego Housing Commission’s increased effort to preserve and improve existing affordable housing since that is time-and-cost-efficient
  • Pursue the construction of affordable apartments on excess MTS land around trolley stations, encouraging the use of environmentally-friendly transit
  • Advance solutions that are working elsewhere, such as offering property tax incentives to builders who include extra affordable units in their projects
  • Assist residents who would like to add an accessory dwelling unit (“granny flat”) behind their home as long-term rental housing for additional income

I also believe neighborhoods should be involved in decision-making. As a past community planning group member myself, I know resident input results in better decisions. Our unique and vibrant neighborhoods deserve good urban planning, not one-size-fits-all mandates. I look forward to working together to make our neighborhoods everything we know they can be.


Racial Justice

Racial Justice

It is time for San Diego to address systemic racism. The killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests have led to a movement to reform a system that for centuries has been designed to disadvantage Black people and other people of color. We must embrace the momentum of this movement and push for further reform. It is time for us to evaluate our approaches to policing throughout the country. The real opportunity lies in taking on structural racism itself — the institutional practices that have systematically disadvantaged people of color. 

Normally, change is slow. But when you have thousands of people protesting in the streets at multiple locations in the city, things can happen with remarkable speed. From parking enforcement to contracting opportunities to the distribution of city services to police reforms, we must seek to understand how these systems have long disadvantaged people of color and work to reform the practices that lead to unfair outcomes. Changing these systems are notoriously difficult since systems are largely designed to uphold the status quo. Now is our opportunity to use the momentum of this movement to confront the structural racism that leads to these intractable inequities.

Police Reform

Independent Commission on Police Practices

I support Measure B, which, if passed by the voters, would establish an independent Commission on Police Practices. This commission would investigate officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths, and complaints. I will ensure that the commission is properly funded, has qualified leadership, and has commissioners who are representative of our diverse communities.

Eliminate racial biases and inequities in traffic stops

A San Diego State University analysis of local traffic stop data found Black and Brown drivers were more likely than White drivers to be searched during a traffic stop. Despite being searched more often, these drivers were less likely to be found with contraband like drugs or guns. The findings were consistent with studies elsewhere. We must eliminate racial biases and inequities in traffic stops. We should invest in anti-bias training, collect and publicly evaluate data, and hold ourselves accountable for disparities. We should examine current practices and change those that result in the inequitable treatment of people who are Black or Brown. It is essential that we build trust between communities of color and law enforcement.

Demilitarization and use-of-force

Police departments serve a different role than the military, and we must be very cautious about the militarization of the police force. I will work with the mayor’s office to ensure there are appropriate checks and balances in the purchase and acquisition of military-grade equipment. We must also review our police use-of-force policies to prevent force from being used unnecessarily or inequitably. We should also prioritize the use of de-escalation techniques whenever practical.

Additional reforms

The independent Commission on Police Practices would also be authorized to make recommendations on additional reforms. I will ensure that policy proposals the Commission sends to the City Council for consideration are taken seriously.

Investing in our underserved Communities and Neighborhoods

Local government has historically underserved and underinvested in Black and Brown communities. If elected, I will work with the council and the new mayor to reverse this. We must make it a priority to invest in employment opportunities, small businesses, infrastructure, youth programs, and engagement in these communities.

Homelessness/Mental Health

For too long, complex challenges surrounding homelessness and mental health have been relegated to police departments. Instead, we should direct these functions to social services agencies where they belong. Council District 3, which includes Downtown, Balboa Park and the surrounding neighborhoods, is at the epicenter of San Diego’s homelessness crisis, and I will facilitate this move along with a comprehensive plan to address homelessness that was endorsed by the City Council last year.


End redlining. While long against the law, practices akin to redlining continue to segregate our communities. There must be investment in equitable home and property ownership for Black and Brown San Diegans. We must add more subsidized and truly affordable housing. I support Measure A which would provide millions for affordable housing and homelessness services if passed by the voters. I will work to ensure compliance with city ordinances prohibiting discrimination against people searching for apartments. Quality of life starts with housing.

The Intersectionality of Racial and Environmental Justice 

Research shows Black and Brown people experience higher levels of asthma and diabetes, and are prone to preventable illnesses due to air pollution and less access to organic food. Black and Brown people are also more likely to use public transit. To reduce our carbon footprint, one of my goals is to work with MTS to make bus passes accessible to all San Diegans and expand bus service. District 3 has embraced community gardens, and I will work with local leaders and nonprofits to ensure our city uses underutilized spaces so that our community has more access to locally grown food. We, as a city, should reward development that is green. 

COVID-19 & Economic Recovery

Our entire community has suffered during this pandemic. Many have endured sickness. Many are hurting financially.

As your councilmember, I’ll ensure our City follows the best medical advice to keep our residents healthy. We’ll fight for our fair share of federal stimulus dollars. And we’ll support our world-class research institutions that are working on a vaccine.

I am uniquely qualified for this situation. I was director of the American Cancer Society in Southern California where I managed a multimillion-dollar budget. I am endorsed by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Earlier in my career, the American Red Cross hired me to manage public affairs after 9/11. Now I’m ready to help lead our City through this challenging time.

As health officials approve reopening businesses and civic activities, I will play an active role in supporting our financial recovery and growth. A robust San Diego economy benefits everyone. District 3 has dozens of businesses in each of its vibrant neighborhoods including our bustling downtown. These businesses create much-needed jobs for local residents and provide the goods and services we all depend on.

I will drive short-term, medium-term, and long-term growth

Short-term, I will help restaurants and other businesses get back on their feet by approving the use of outdoor spaces to increase customer capacities. I will also work to attract new dollars into our economy from out of town by supporting marketing efforts to boost tourism.

Medium-term, I will accelerate economic growth by helping pave the way for approved building projects to break ground and put people to work in good construction jobs. City regulatory agencies must be thorough, transparent, consistent, and efficient.

Long-term, I will promote Downtown as a great place for innovation companies. Horton Plaza is becoming a tech hub, and the old Navy Broadway Complex may become a life-sciences district. These will bring high-paying jobs that support other local businesses.

Best of all, this economic growth will increase the city’s tax base, providing funds for infrastructure repairs and other needed improvements in our neighborhoods.


I am proud to be endorsed by the Sierra Club, San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, and Climate Defenders Action Fund

When people think of San Diego, they imagine sunshine, mild temperatures, beaches, mountains, and deserts. Our environment is central to the well-being of San Diego and its residents. District 3 has wonderful environmental features that are truly remarkable for the urban heart of a major city.

We’re home to San Diego’s “crown jewel,” Balboa Park. I will protect the park and ensure it remains free for everyone to enjoy. I will oppose attempts to carve out sections of the park for private development.

District 3 also sits on San Diego Bay. It’s one of the best natural harbors in America. I support improving its water quality by capturing storm drain runoff that currently flows directly into the bay.

Our numerous canyons are home to coyotes, foxes, racoons, rabbits, red-tailed hawks, great-horned owls, and other wildlife. The canyons need to be cleaned and restored in places, and neighborhood residents willing to help with these projects have sometimes found it challenging to partner with the city. I will facilitate these efforts so we can make faster progress on the work that needs to be done.

I will also ensure the City fully funds and implements its Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gases. We need good public transit and more tree-lined pedestrian promenades. And let’s reduce freeway traffic by enabling more people to work from home where that makes sense. The City should also achieve less energy and water usage, add renewable energy sources and clean vehicles, promote recycling, and increase its tree cover.

I’m committed to making our urban environment even more attractive for our children and grandchildren, and I will work closely with our local environmental organizations to achieve this goal.