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New City Policy Would Change Way Infrastructure Money Is Prioritized

Above: A swath of land along Home Avenue in City Heights has been fenced off since the city said it would build a park there 11 years ago.

Aired 10/28/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego City Council considers a policy to better prioritize parks, libraries and fire stations in underserved neighborhoods.

San Diego's downtown and beach communities saw the most money for parks last year, and that's not including funds for Balboa Park and Mission Bay. Now, the City Council is taking up a measure that could spread the money more equitably.

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

The measure changes the grading system planners use to prioritize projects like parks, fire stations and libraries. It adds weight to those projects that advance social equity and are in underserved communities.

Center on Policy Initiatives program and policy director Christie Hill said the new policy is encouraging for older communities south of the Interstate 8. But she said funding remains an issue.

"If a project doesn't have the funds available but has a high score, then yeah, that project might not make it into the budget, but it's important that we start somewhere," Hill said. "This policy is a beginning. It's a longer conversation that we expect to have in the coming months and years. This policy is a beginning. It's a longer conversation that we expect to have in the coming months and years."

The grading rubric for city projects fast-tracks those that have identified funding. Older communities typically have lower development fees to fuel economic growth, but the lower fees mean there is less money for community improvements.

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