San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders will appeal the decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to remove the San Diego region from its list of “high risk” areas eligible for federal money to prevent terrorist attacks, reports the Los Angeles Times. Leaving San Diego off the list of 35 areas facing the greatest risk of attack “is not in the best interests of national security,” Sanders said after meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Sanders noted that the city has one of the busiest international borders in the world, a major seaport, the largest concentration of military bases in the country, and tourist attractions that draw millions each year.
Sanders rejected a suggestion that the city is seeking a federal bailout to compensate for its long history of refusing to fund its police and fire departments at the same level as other major cities. Under the new Homeland Security lists, urban areas considered to be at greater risk, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach, are given priority over those considered to be at less risk. Sanders said Chertoff told him that the presence of the military should work as a deterrent against terrorism in San Diego, decreasing the need for federal funds. Sanders said the military’s priority is protecting its own bases, not the civilian population.