‘A Path to Nowhere’

‘A Path to Nowhere’

Photo by Sam Hodgson

William Ballard, 77, heads through the parking lot outside the Trader Joe's and Ralph's in Hillcrest.

You might have seen new curb ramps popping up all over San Diego recently. The city installed almost 700 of them in the last six months of 2012 alone using money from an infrastructure repair loan.

The ramps allow people in wheelchairs, including William Ballard, to get up on the sidewalk rather than travel in the road.

The city, however, doesn’t do much for wheelchair riders once they’re on the sidewalk: It’s doesn’t repair or maintain the broken ones. Council President Todd Gloria calls that policy “the largest insult to the disabled community that it could possibly be.”

“We spend all this time and effort on the ramps, but it’s a path to nowhere for people in wheelchairs,” Gloria said.

This sidewalk “path to nowhere” shows one instance where the city’s efforts for the disabled have, at best, been uneven in recent years.

Former Mayor Jerry Sanders cited years of neglect in funding for Americans With Disabilities Act projects when he announced early in his term that he’d make ADA spending one of his top priorities. He wanted to dedicate $10 million a year to ADA projects, paying for them through the sale of city lands.

The plan worked for a couple years. But when the bottom fell out of the economy, the city stopped selling land, shutting down the main ADA funding source. Between 2010 and 2012, the city averaged $2.4 million a year in funding on ADA projects. Spending has going up this year because of the infrastructure loan.

The future for ADA projects, however, aren’t clear. Mayor Bob Filner’s proposed budget includes just $1.2 million for them next year, though money from the city’s next infrastructure loan could add to the total.

Overall, the city estimates its ADA backlog stands at nearly $60 million, which is more than it costs to run the entire library system annually. But compared with the city’s nearly $1 billion backlog for streets, storm drains and buildings, a $60 million deficit doesn’t look so bad.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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4 comments
David Hall
David Hall

You make it sound like Jerry Sanders came up with the ADA funding idea himself out of some kind of civic mindedness. He didn't. His hand was forced by disabled activists. And as for all those ramps, you know the yellow ones with the bumps, ask somebody in a wheelchair how those feel when you roll over them.

David Hall
David Hall subscriber

You make it sound like Jerry Sanders came up with the ADA funding idea himself out of some kind of civic mindedness. He didn't. His hand was forced by disabled activists. And as for all those ramps, you know the yellow ones with the bumps, ask somebody in a wheelchair how those feel when you roll over them.

Katheryn Rhodes
Katheryn Rhodes

http://www.sandiego.gov/fm/pdf/fy14mayrevision.pdf Mayor Filner's May Revision to the Fiscal Year 2014 Proposed Budget dated May 21, 2013, documents that the City of San Diego is in great shape with more than $59 million EXTRA in the General Fund Reserve Bank Accounts over the 8% Goal of $94 million set by the City Council that could fully fund a Sidewalk assessment. in addition to Mayor Filner's priorities including a new $1 million Civic and Urban Initiative Program. See Page 24 for Attachment 1, the Fiscal Year 2014 General Fund Reserve Estimates totaling $153 million or 13% siting in the bank earning interest, but not being leveraged. At the Budget hearings although it is an easy option to move the excess 5% or $59 million from the Reserves into the General Fund, no member of the City Council wants to lead in the effort which takes money siting in the bank and instead uses our extra Reserve assets for the greater good. Instead all City Council members and the IBA want to be DILIGENT and PROTECT THE GENERAL FUND by not touching EXCESS General Fund Reserves. In fact, at City Council Budget hearings the lack of Leadership on the Council results in negativity towards anyone who suggests using EXCESS Reserves for sidewalk repairs or extension of Library hours, as being short-sighted and financially incompetent. They City Council Members are shooting themselves in the foot for purely political decisions. It seems that instead of the solution of using excess Reserve now, the City Council wants the Mayor to suggest using excess Reserves, so some City Council members can deride the solution as typical Tax and Spend Liberal Policies. http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilcomm_agendas_attach/2013/Budget_130313_5.pdf See Page 4 of the IBA report issued March 12, 2013 that recommend not touching the excess $59 million in General Fund Reserves. Just In Case. http://www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd7/pdf/2013/fy2014budget.pdf Another example is Scott Sherman's Council Budget Priorities and Issues to Consider dated March 1, 2013. "Maintain Reserves at High Levels. The Council and Mayor should continue hold to our established policy of high reserve amounts in order to ensure that emergencies and unanticipated economic circumstances, particularly State and Federal budget impacts, will not pose Insurmountable challenges. We must rigorously adhere to our goal to not only provide “rainy day” protection but also to sustain the City’s favorable credit rating. "

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

http://www.sandiego.gov/fm/pdf/fy14mayrevision.pdf Mayor Filner's May Revision to the Fiscal Year 2014 Proposed Budget dated May 21, 2013, documents that the City of San Diego is in great shape with more than $59 million EXTRA in the General Fund Reserve Bank Accounts over the 8% Goal of $94 million set by the City Council that could fully fund a Sidewalk assessment. in addition to Mayor Filner's priorities including a new $1 million Civic and Urban Initiative Program. See Page 24 for Attachment 1, the Fiscal Year 2014 General Fund Reserve Estimates totaling $153 million or 13% siting in the bank earning interest, but not being leveraged. At the Budget hearings although it is an easy option to move the excess 5% or $59 million from the Reserves into the General Fund, no member of the City Council wants to lead in the effort which takes money siting in the bank and instead uses our extra Reserve assets for the greater good. Instead all City Council members and the IBA want to be DILIGENT and PROTECT THE GENERAL FUND by not touching EXCESS General Fund Reserves. In fact, at City Council Budget hearings the lack of Leadership on the Council results in negativity towards anyone who suggests using EXCESS Reserves for sidewalk repairs or extension of Library hours, as being short-sighted and financially incompetent. They City Council Members are shooting themselves in the foot for purely political decisions. It seems that instead of the solution of using excess Reserve now, the City Council wants the Mayor to suggest using excess Reserves, so some City Council members can deride the solution as typical Tax and Spend Liberal Policies. http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilcomm_agendas_attach/2013/Budget_130313_5.pdf See Page 4 of the IBA report issued March 12, 2013 that recommend not touching the excess $59 million in General Fund Reserves. Just In Case. http://www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd7/pdf/2013/fy2014budget.pdf Another example is Scott Sherman's Council Budget Priorities and Issues to Consider dated March 1, 2013. "Maintain Reserves at High Levels. The Council and Mayor should continue hold to our established policy of high reserve amounts in order to ensure that emergencies and unanticipated economic circumstances, particularly State and Federal budget impacts, will not pose Insurmountable challenges. We must rigorously adhere to our goal to not only provide “rainy day” protection but also to sustain the City’s favorable credit rating. "