Proposed bond would fund San Diego improvement projects

City Council to consider $120M bond in January

SAN DIEGO - A proposed bond issue that the City Council will take up in January would fund $120 million worth of projects, including street repairs, storm drain improvements and replacement fire stations in San Diego, city officials announced Thursday.

Street resurfacing accounts for $43.5 million of the money, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and City Council members Marti Emerald and Mark Kersey said at a news conference.

San Diego's 2,800 miles of paved streets and 200-plus miles of paved alleys earned an overall rating of 57.6 out of 100 in a 2011 survey of road conditions, which was below other major cities in California.

A street in good condition has a rating of at least 70. A figure between 40 and 69 means a street is in fair condition. Below 40 is poor.

Only 35 percent of the roads and alleys were in good condition and the portion of streets in poor condition was 25 percent, according to the study.

"It's atrocious," City Heights resident Tyler Carlson said about the city's road problems. "You can't go too fast or else you're going to mess up your car."

"This infrastructure bond will help us improve our neighborhoods to levels San Diegans deserve," Gloria said. "Repairing streets, storm drains and replacing failing, aging facilities with bond funds is fiscally responsible and community focused."

Among the big-ticket items contemplated in the bond are $22 million to improve storm drains, $11.2 million to replace a fire station in City Heights, $8.2 million to replace a fire station in Hillcrest, and $4 million toward re-doing the Mission Hills/Hillcrest Library, $3 million for the San Ysidro Library and $2.8 for the Skyline Library.

The library projects each cost a lot more than what's being allocated in the list of projects, but they are also receiving money from other sources, including previous bond issues.

Gloria said the bond is possible thanks to a rebounding economy and better credit rating for San Diego.

"We're using that power for our neighborhoods not for big projects elsewhere in town," he said.

Kersey, who chairs the City Council's Infrastructure Committee, is hosting public meetings in each district to receive public input on infrastructure priorities.

Also, his committee and the full City Council are scheduled to address infrastructure at meetings on Monday.

"The backbone of our community is infrastructure, and we have to invest in it if we're going to thrive," Kersey said. "This bond is a funding surge to address the accelerated deterioration of our streets and sidewalks, streetlights and storm drains, parks and libraries."

Kersey told reporters recently that while the backlog of capital projects in the city is officially around $900 million, the reality is that no one really knows the true figure. He has pushed for new assessments of municipally-owned buildings and sidewalks to get a clearer picture of the city's needs.

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