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‘Rebuild San Diego’ Proposition Wins

Photo by Claire Trageser

San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey discusses his plan to fund infrastructure improvements in the city, while San Diego City Council President Sherri Lightner looks on, Dec. 2, 2015.

‘Rebuild San Diego’ Proposition Wins

GUEST:

Mark Kersey, councilman, City of San Diego

Transcript

Update: 12:11 a.m., June 8, 2016

San Diegans voted to fix up the city on Tuesday, giving a local measure a solid victory at 64 percent in favor with the majority of precincts reporting. Proposition H will earmark money to repair parks, libraries, roads and sidewalks that have gone neglected over the years citywide.

Update: 8:23 p.m., June 7, 2016

Proposition H, which would fund San Diego infrastructure repairs, leads with 64 percent of the vote in the moments after polls closed at 8 p.m.

Original post

Rebuild San Diego — or Proposition H, as it's called on Tuesday's ballot — seeks to reverse the trend of city infrastructure falling apart. Whether it would reverse the trend or do little to stop it is a point of disagreement.

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The measure would reserve money in San Diego’s budget to repair or enhance the city’s dilapidated or inadequate roads, sidewalks, parks, libraries -- any physical facility the city is responsible for.

It’s hard to put an exact figure on San Diego’s infrastructure deficit, but most agree it is a multibillion-dollar problem that grows bigger every year.

“That’s really what Prop. H is all about,” said San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey, who has been at the forefront of the Proposition H campaign. “It’s addressing that issue of making sure that the next generation doesn’t have to deal with the same problem.”

Rebuild San Diego qualified for the June ballot on a 7-2 vote by the City Council. The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce sponsored the "Yes on H" campaign, which had at least $213,287 to finance the many pro-Proposition H mailers that San Diego residents found in their mailboxes in recent weeks.

Proposition H creates no new taxes. Instead, it relies on expected future funds for infrastructure repair and construction. Over the next 25 years, it would reserve any growth in the sales tax above the rate of the Consumer Price Index and capture all cash savings from reduced payments to the city’s pension fund, as the pension deficit is paid down. The measure would also capture 50 percent of all growth in property tax, hotel tax and franchise fees over the next five years.

The estimated money set aside for infrastructure by Proposition H would be nearly $4 billion dollars, Kersey said. He calls it a conservative estimate.

There has been no organized opposition to Rebuild San Diego leading up to Tuesday's election, but it has detractors.

Some taxpayer advocates and city worker unions oppose it. Some say Proposition H doesn’t raise enough money. Others argue reserving money in the budget for infrastructure will take money away from public safety. And some say there isn’t enough detail in the initiative to identify what projects will get funded.

Todd Gloria was one of the two city council members who voted against putting Proposition H on the ballot. He calls the measure ballot-box budgeting, which ties the hands of future politicians who must respond to changing needs. He said at best it’s no more than a continuation of the status quo.

“We already take about half of our general fund revenue growth and dedicate it toward infrastructure,” Gloria said. “What I know is that 75 percent of San Diegans are unhappy with the status quo. And so what this is doing is locking in the status quo for the next 25 years. If you don’t like the roads the way they are now, you’re not going to like them after Prop. H becomes law.”

Many people, Gloria included, have said San Diego needs more revenue (read, new taxes) to realistically solve a problem that’s measured in the billions of dollars. Kersey’s response suggests that part of him agrees.

“We have never suggested that Prop. H will solve all the needs over the next 25 years. What we’re saying is we need to put the city on the right path so that we are spending money wisely and making sure that we are getting things done,” Kersey said.

In order to pass, Proposition H requires a simple majority from San Diego voters.

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