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New City Council Committee Begins To Tackle Infrastructure Issues

A new City Council committee charged with tackling San Diego's extensive backlog of maintenance and capital improvement projects held its first meeting today and passed a tentative work plan that calls for a thorough assessment of the city's infrastructure needs.

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A pothole in a road.

The committee members asked the Public Works Department and the city's Independent Budget Analyst to return in two months with an initial look at needs that have gone unmet. The plan calls for the various municipal departments to eventually conduct condition assessments of around 1,000 city-owned or managed facilities.

In a recent memo to colleagues, committee Chairman Mark Kersey said the city's unmet infrastructure needs could top $1 billion. Previous estimates of a deficit of $800 million to $900 million did not include work needed on Petco Park, Qualcomm Stadium, sidewalks, piers and water and wastewater improvements, he said.

Additionally, he noted, a consultant recommended that the city build 10 new fire stations in order to meet fire and safety standards.

"As we begin to emerge from our fiscal woes, we have to address cracked sidewalks, pothole-filled roads, broken storm drains and city facilities that are falling apart in our neighborhoods," Kersey said. "We will be creating strategies to deliver projects faster, going into the communities to listen to their priorities, and developing a five-year plan to fix our long-neglected infrastructure needs.'

San Diego was unable to fully fund its infrastructure needs over the past decade because of its fiscal woes. City workers have picked up the pace in fixing up streets over the past two years, however.

The work plan calls for the city to properly catalogue its infrastructure needs, identify one-time financial investments to pay for those needs, establish best management and fiscal practices, determine acceptable service levels and performance measures, hold community meetings to take public input, and come up with a policy that defines how a need becomes a project.

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