(photo credit: terratrekking)
I’ve lived in various California cities in my lifetime, including San Francisco, San Diego, and now Los Angeles. I think I can call myself somewhat of a driving expert. Let me tell you, all of those years under my belt still don’t prepare me when I’m driving down the road and I come across potholes. They’re everywhere.
It’s not just the roadways, many sidewalks I’ve traveled on have the same problems—cracks, even big chunks of cement are gone.
It’s a conversation a lot of folks across the state continue to have. Along with being a signature initiative of the California Economic Summit, the state’s crumbling infrastructure is the number one priority for freshman San Diego City Council member Mark Kersey.
“Infrastructure is the next big crisis facing the city,” said Kersey. “From a quality of life standpoint, from an economic prosperity standpoint, infrastructure touches all of those things and it’s one of the things the city can directly control and be responsible for a tangible, positive impact on people’s lives.”
“San Diego was ranked the fifth as having the worst streets in the nation. It’s a car culture, much like L.A. So people travel a lot, mass transit is not where it is in some places, so we haven’t really been doing a good job of taking care of our streets and roads and sidewalks,” said Kersey.
In fact, Kersey said the city has a backlog of projects that exceed $1 billion due to years of underinvestment.
In response, Kersey created an infrastructure committee, which he chairs. He wanted to create a rational process on how to handle the city’s backlog of projects. In June, the City Council passed a policy that makes public input a formal part of the infrastructure planning process.
“Meetings are just a good idea to engage the community. Also, the amount of need we have, throughout the city, greatly exceeds the resources we have to fill that need so we need to prioritize these projects,” said Kersey.
There will be seven community meetings. Already, there have been four.
“What we’re doing is we’re gathering all of this data, we’re going to aggregate all of it and then put it into our five-year infrastructure plan, which we are developing right now and then that will be part of the five-year plan the council will adopt next spring.”
But like any city in California, finding the money for such projects is just another roadblock. But Kersey and the infrastructure committee have an answer—a proposed bond of $120 million.
“Ranging from over $40 million for streets and roads to a million bucks for sidewalk repairs, $21 million for storm drains, five fire stations, two lifeguard towers, four libraries—much needed projects people have been talking about for many, many years,” said the Councilman.
The committee recently signed off on the bond, which now goes to the City Council for approval.
“We’re making good progress, but everyone has to remember, this problem wasn’t created overnight so we’re not going to solve it overnight. But it’s my top priority in office. And now that we have the infrastructure committee, it’s going to really focus our efforts and bring some solutions.”