What Is In Mayor Faulconer's $18 Million 'Vision Zero' Budget?
Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 outlines $18 million in spending on projects to support his "Vision Zero" campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025. So where is that money being spent?
Vision Zero is meant to be a data-driven approach to traffic safety: Find which streets are most prone to collisions and focus limited city resources on making them safer, particularly for the most vulnerable travelers — pedestrians and bicyclists.
KPBS created a map locating each of the projects in the city's Vision Zero budget, as well as the city's eight deadliest Vision Zero corridors. You can view the map and explore the projects in your neighborhood below.
Last year the mayor faced criticism for including some projects in his Vision Zero budget that would appear to have a minimal impact on preventing traffic deaths, such as converting street medians from asphalt to concrete or repairing street lights on quiet residential streets.
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This year, a number of the mayor's highest-priority Vision Zero projects remain mostly unfunded or years away from completion. One example is a project to add bike lanes and sidewalks to a section of Market Street in southeastern San Diego.
The mayor proposes giving $200,000 to the project, and he includes that money in his $18 million of Vision Zero spending. But the funding this fiscal year is not new — it is only a partial replacement of $282,500 that was taken away from the project last year and spent in other parts of the city. The Market Street project has an estimated total cost of nearly $5.6 million, most of which is still unfunded.
Sidewalk repair and reconstruction makes up $5 million of the mayor's Vision Zero budget, but the city is still short at least $47 million to fix existing sidewalks citywide. And the funding shortfall is even worse for the construction of new sidewalks: The mayor's proposed budget allocates $1.2 million to new walkways, but the city needs an extra $104.6 million to fully fund the city's sidewalk needs.
The Vision Zero budget does include improvements to areas that have seen a high number of crashes over the past several years. Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach was called out as one of the eight deadliest corridors in the city in a 2015 report by the nonprofit Circulate San Diego. The proposed budget would fund a traffic-calming raised crosswalk on Garnet Avenue, as well as two curb extensions and improvements to two traffic signals.
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The proposed budget would also fund safety improvements to intersections along other Vision Zero corridors, including 5th Avenue, University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard. Other safety improvements fall outside the city's most dangerous streets but are adjacent to parks or schools.
"Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries citywide, so every sidewalk, crosswalk or intersection improvement contributes to that goal," Greg Block, Faulconer's senior press secretary, said in an email. "That includes providing sidewalks in areas where none currently exist and where there is community demand for new sidewalks, both of which contribute to the citywide effort to create a safer environment for pedestrians."
Block added that the shuffling of money away from and back into the Market Street project was a "cash management strategy." The $200,000 this fiscal year will fund design work, he said, and the rest of the money for construction would be sought in future budget years.
Maya Rosas, director of policy for Circulate San Diego, said she was glad to see the mayor fund improvements to dangerous intersections — included one at Kansas Street and El Cajon Boulevard, where a driver struck and killed a pedestrian in 2016. The intersection appears on a list of locations slated for new traffic signals, though it is unclear how much that signal would cost or whether it will be installed this coming fiscal year.
"The city's Vision Zero budget includes really important work that's improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety across the city," Rosas said. "We'd like to see the city continue to prioritize, using the data-driven approach, the places where people's lives are most at risk."