Marni takes her seat
By Bella Ross
Organizing a strong response to COVID-19, solidifying public safety services and taking a hard look at infrastructure are all at the top of Marni von Wilpert’s agenda heading into her first months on the San Diego City Council.
A Scripps Rancher since birth, von Wilpert knows a thing or two about how things run in her suburban corner of the city, otherwise known as District 5.
Beginning her term in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, von Wilpert said she was shocked by the Council’s lack of planning around virus response and recovery. She said she would love to see a committee dedicated to these tasks, and that she is specifically concerned about meeting the needs of small businesses during this difficult time.
Nonetheless, von Wilpert says she is confident in the new City Council. Five out of the Council’s nine members won their seats in the November election.
“I am humbled and honored to be on this new council because the City Council members are incredible,” she said. “We have four attorneys now, and we didn’t have any attorneys for years.”
The new councilmember’s committee assignments are a testament to her priorities in the position. As chair of the Committee on Active Transportation and Infrastructure (following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Mark Kersey), von Wilpert said she is excited to focus on street and stormwater improvements, as well as helping the state meet its clean energy goals.
“I want to make sure that we maintain our infrastructure not only because it’s the right thing to do for our city, but also – as a former deputy city attorney – I would see the lawsuits come in if we didn’t, and things would break,” von Wilpert said.
Also serving as vice chair on the Committee on the Environment, she said many of San Diego’s infrastructure problems are leading to environmental degradation and could have green solutions – such as collecting rainwater for use during drought periods.
“It rains, it floods our sewers, it goes straight out to the beach and the bay. Our surfers can’t surf for three days, it’s polluted and everybody’s upset,” von Wilpert said. “Then, we go through periods of drought where we don’t have any water.”
As a former deputy city attorney, she said she would also like to see more of a focus on public safety – specifically, wildfire prevention and planning.
The councilmember also said she is hoping to work with Scripps Ranch organizations to ensure the roll out and effects of the city’s pure water initiatives, which will entail construction at Miramar Reservoir, are well communicated to residents.
Von Wilpert’s commitment to addressing these close-to-home issues, such as street repairs and wildfire safety, is derived from a deep passion for public service and her roots in the community.
“In Girl Scouts, we were taught every weekend to go do a community clean-up or bring meals and breakfast to homeless people,” she said. “We’re just looking out for each other. So, the Scripps Ranch community really raised me in a way that guided me toward public service.”
Von Wilpert encourages residents to let her office know what needs attention in her district.
“The best way to communicate with us is the Get it Done app. It’s an app you can download on your smartphone, and it allows you to take a picture of the issue if it’s a pothole or any other maintenance issue. Let us know,” she said. “You can also follow up with our office. Once an app report is lodged … that creates a record and then you can call our office and say, ‘Hey, I put this in the Get it Done app.’ We had a streetlight issue out the other day, and somebody called in and our community representative was able to follow up and get it done. So, please do continue to use that.”
With budget conversations beginning for fiscal year 2021-22, von Wilpert asks that residents consider sharing what they would like to see in the City’s next financial plan. For more information, visit sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd5.