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DeMaio’s Plan To Fund Pothole Fixes Questioned

Aired 9/23/11 on KPBS News.

Potholes are in abundance on San Diego streets. But the plan put forth by Councilman Carl DeMaio to pay for repairs has some holes of its own, critics say.

There’s no question there are some bad roads in the city of San Diego. But there are some questions surrounding a plan being floated to fix them.

Much like an old home, it seems something is always breaking in the city of San Diego. And sometimes, money we’d plan to use to fix one thing ends up being spent somewhere else. Councilman Carl DeMaio is proposing a plan to put an end to that when it comes to potholes.

DeMaio, who's running for mayor, calls for dedicating future revenue to street repair.

But UCSD political scientist Validimir Kogan says past mayors Susan Golding and Dick Murphy had similar plans for police staffing and libraries that didn’t pan out. Kogan says one reason is that when revenues begin to increase, voters tend to want that money used to restore services that were cut.

"It’s going to be very difficult for voters to say we’re going to be OK with not hiring more police officers or hiring more firefighters because Carl DeMaio says we should use this money to pay for streets instead," Kogan said.

Part of DeMaio’s plan calls for putting the issue on the ballot, so future councils would be forced to put money aside for roads. And he disagrees that services would suffer.

"Well, no, I don’t think it’s a choice between restoration and streets," DeMaio said. "Actually, under my plan we show how you can do both. But we need to make a commitment to road repairs. And that’s why I’ve formulated the infrastructure lock-box.

DeMaio maintains the city doesn’t need to raise taxes to pay for roads or services. San Diego is facing about $840 million in deferred maintenance.

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