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Politics

Auditor Faults San Diego On Street Repair

A San Diego worker fills a pothole in the South Park neighborhood on April 29, 2014.
Claire Trageser
A San Diego worker fills a pothole in the South Park neighborhood on April 29, 2014.

The city of San Diego can do a better job with oversight of rules that coordinate the way streets are torn up for construction projects, according to a report from the Office of the City Auditor that was released Thursday.

Among other things, the city's Street Preservation Ordinance requires that utilities coordinate their infrastructure projects; sets a three-year moratorium on excavations after a roadway has been covered with slurry seal, and five-year moratorium when the street has been resurfaced; and provides guidelines for resurfacing excavated streets.

The idea is to avoid situations in which the city fixes up a roadway, only to have fresh pavement ripped up for a construction project. Waivers are issued in emergency situations.

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City auditors found that the Public Utilities Department and the Transportation and Storm Water Department's Street Division are not repairing emergency water and sewer trenches the way the ordinance requires; that moratorium waivers haven't been consistently submitted to a division that handles project coordination; that compliance documentation isn't kept in a central location; and city staff are not always able to resolve project conflicts.

The auditors noted that the situation exists at a time when the city is ramping up repairs of streets and other infrastructure.

"With the prioritization of infrastructure improvements and maintenance, the city can expect an increase in excavation activity and other projects that will impact the public right-of-way and street conditions," the report said. "We found that by strengthening project coordination efforts and compliance with the Street Preservation Ordinance, the city can help minimize impacts to streets caused by excavations."

The auditors issued eight recommendations, including training Street Division employees so they can assess the quality of work done by road repair crews, and developing written procedures for coordinating moratorium waivers. City management has agreed to implement the recommendations, the report said.

A statement from the City of San Diego said city officials agree with the report's findings and would work on the recommendations.

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