On the evening of Saturday, Oct. 2, close to a thousand residents and visitors were treated to a truly wonderful and beautiful Symphony by the Sea. Under the direction of Shannon Kitelinger and Michael Gerdes, the San Diego State University Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra delighted the audience for over two hours with inspiring and often patriotic music. The crowd was on their feet several times during the evening thanks to the riveting performances of the student musicians and performers. It was especially nice to have the families and friends of the SDSU musicians present.
Conductor Michael Gerdes became emotional when he described that this was the first public performance of the orchestra and symphony since the start of the pandemic. The crowd had set up their chairs and blankets early to enjoy the superb weather, especially the technicolor sunset. It was nice to have Assemblymember Chris Ward, Port Commission Dan Malcolm and my Imperial Beach City Council colleagues present as well. Thanks to the Port of San Diego and the County of San Diego for their generous grants that supported this essential event. And thanks to the hardworking City of Imperial Beach staff who made the entire event possible.
What I was reminded of during the entirely enjoyable evening was how essential and necessary the arts are to our lives. When we are able to join together and be inspired by music, art and performances we all benefit. The more we can join together and enjoy each other, the more we build community. Investing in parks and recreation is also a critical piece to building community and investing in our future.
We have historically underinvested in this incredibly important part of civic life and I am elated and thankful to my city council colleagues Ed Spriggs, Mathew Leyba-Gonzalez, Jack Fisher, and Paloma Aguirre for their strong support for building our new Parks and Recreation Department and making historic investments in necessary civic infrastructure. Our kids, seniors and families deserve the same access to programs, parks, and healthy activities as every other community has in every other city within the County of San Diego.
On Wednesday, Oct. 4, I gave a presentation on the Tijuana River border pollution crisis at the 37th Annual Environmental Conference of the Industrial Environmental Association annual. I was joined on the panel by Dave Gibson of the Regional Water Quality Control Board and Dave Smith of the U.S. EPA. It was a good chance to review why we need to fix the pollution crisis immediately and to review the proposed solutions. As both Gibson and Smith emphasized, we need to move quickly to comprehensively fix this problem with infrastructure as well as long-term plans to recycle or reuse sewage in Tijuana that ends up fouling our air and beaches.
I also emphasized the need for water reuse in Tijuana with Baja California Governor-elect Marina del Pilar Avila during a recent meeting. The only long-term solution is making sure we have adequate river diversion infrastructure on the U.S. side of the border as well as continuing to push Mexico to upgrade Tijuana’s aging and broken sewage collection and treatment system. What we can’t do is become complacent. We have to continue to push at every level to fix this entirely fixable problem.