City Council Wants Your Help Drafting an Infrastructure Budget

City Council Wants Your Help Drafting an Infrastructure Budget

File photo by Sam Hodgson

The city still isn't spending enough to keep its infrastructure from deteriorating.

Councilman Mark Kersey wants your help drafting the city’s infrastructure budget. He kicked off a series of meetings this week designed to let the community weigh in on what gets built and when.

The meetings grew out of a pilot program that let resident-based community planning groups help shape last year’s budget early on. Previously, their suggestions were saved for later drafts. The City Council voted this summer to make early input the standard.

Kersey said getting residents to buy into the process is key when their needs outpace available funding.

“This is a multibillion-dollar problem,” Kersey said, referring to an infrastructure backlog that could cost well over the current estimate of $898 million. “It certainly wasn’t created overnight and we’re not going to solve it overnight, so that’s why it’s so important we engage the communities and have them help us understand what their communities need.”

Speak City HeightsAvital Aboody said the new budget process will benefit the city’s older neighborhoods. She works to stoke resident engagement through the Greater Logan Heights Community Partnership, a coalition of nonprofits in the Logan Heights area.

“I would really encourage residents to go and speak their minds and make sure that their needs get on the priority list,” Aboody said. “Because if they’re not going and getting it on the list now, then another budget cycle will go where the needs are unmet.”

But Aboody said the process could be even more inclusive. She said the meetings haven’t been publicized well in her community, where fewer people have regular access to the internet. Aboody said Council members shouldn’t forget the impact of an old-fashioned flier. And she said the Council’s initial outreach to planning groups last year was shortsighted — members often don’t fully represent the community or ease access for residents who don’t speak English, she said.

Kersey said his series of meetings will supplement the city’s work with planning groups. All residents are invited to attend, regardless of whether they’re affiliated with a community group. The city, along with Code for America and the Community Budget Alliance, has also set up a program that allows for community input on the web and via text.

District 4 residents will meet 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Malcolm X Library. The meetings run through December.

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Megan Burks

Megan Burks

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her directly at meburks@kpbs.org or 619.550.5665.

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14 comments
Matt Finish
Matt Finish

Here's an interesting infrastructure item that few talk about: Taking the power lines underground. Have you ever been to a nice neighborhood and thought to yourself "Ahhhh, this feels nice". Then went to another and thought "Man, this place is a dump and makes me feel depressed"? Look around you, chances are that one of the things causing those feelings is the presence or absence of hideous clumps of above ground power lines. I'd like to see all of them undergrounded. While you're doing that, throw some fiber optic cable in and you get city-wide broad band infrastructure to go with it!

Matt Finish
Matt Finish subscriber

Here's an interesting infrastructure item that few talk about: Taking the power lines underground. Have you ever been to a nice neighborhood and thought to yourself "Ahhhh, this feels nice". Then went to another and thought "Man, this place is a dump and makes me feel depressed"? Look around you, chances are that one of the things causing those feelings is the presence or absence of hideous clumps of above ground power lines. I'd like to see all of them undergrounded. While you're doing that, throw some fiber optic cable in and you get city-wide broad band infrastructure to go with it!

Matt Finish
Matt Finish

Infrastructure is the single most important thing a government can do. I would argue that it's above even police services and courts. Sadly, it's generally last on the priority list of things most governments do. We're more interested in paying people to do nothing: see pensions and welfare housing. By definition, when you are paying someone to do nothing, then you are not paying them to do something. Our infrastructure lacks because we are more focused on paying people to do nothing. Get rid of that, and we'd be fine.

Matt Finish
Matt Finish subscriber

Infrastructure is the single most important thing a government can do. I would argue that it's above even police services and courts. Sadly, it's generally last on the priority list of things most governments do. We're more interested in paying people to do nothing: see pensions and welfare housing. By definition, when you are paying someone to do nothing, then you are not paying them to do something. Our infrastructure lacks because we are more focused on paying people to do nothing. Get rid of that, and we'd be fine.

Pat McKemy
Pat McKemy

I totally agree with both Bob Gardner and Derek Hofmann and their respective comments.Fixing the infrastructure is a priority and just by talking about it is not going to help in anyway.It is also true that if the government realizes that the taxpayers money is invested in these projects then they would finish them on priority basis.

Pat McKemy
Pat McKemy subscriber

I totally agree with both Bob Gardner and Derek Hofmann and their respective comments.Fixing the infrastructure is a priority and just by talking about it is not going to help in anyway.It is also true that if the government realizes that the taxpayers money is invested in these projects then they would finish them on priority basis.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin

I think its a good start and hopefully a follow through. Unfortunately it will require larger bond sales due to the opportunity cost of the pensions hamstringing the city. In addition to the prioritizing aspect of this I would like to see the Coordination aspect worked on. Would like to see the days of streets being paved only to be dug up for water or other utility lines a month later be corrected.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

I think its a good start and hopefully a follow through. Unfortunately it will require larger bond sales due to the opportunity cost of the pensions hamstringing the city. In addition to the prioritizing aspect of this I would like to see the Coordination aspect worked on. Would like to see the days of streets being paved only to be dug up for water or other utility lines a month later be corrected.

Bob Gardner
Bob Gardner

The long and the short of this is that the city government needs to stop talking about the issue and spending money studying the issue and just start fixing the infrastructure. Actions speak louder than words and all the government wants to do is talk about it - again and again and again.

Bob Gardner
Bob Gardner subscriber

The long and the short of this is that the city government needs to stop talking about the issue and spending money studying the issue and just start fixing the infrastructure. Actions speak louder than words and all the government wants to do is talk about it - again and again and again.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann

If infrastructure projects were prioritized according to expected return per tax dollar invested, more of them could be completed more quickly than if they were prioritized in any other order.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

If infrastructure projects were prioritized according to expected return per tax dollar invested, more of them could be completed more quickly than if they were prioritized in any other order.

Matt Finish
Matt Finish

That will never happen. Politicians don't get elected to rationally discuss, plan and execute things based on ROI or priority. Rather, they get elected based on emotionally charged mouth breathing and arm waving. See the last election for proof. The projects that get done will be executed in the order of what feels the best and what benefits political donors the best. What citizens actually need will come in last. If it gets done in any other order, I'll take you out to Mister A's.

Matt Finish
Matt Finish subscriber

That will never happen. Politicians don't get elected to rationally discuss, plan and execute things based on ROI or priority. Rather, they get elected based on emotionally charged mouth breathing and arm waving. See the last election for proof. The projects that get done will be executed in the order of what feels the best and what benefits political donors the best. What citizens actually need will come in last. If it gets done in any other order, I'll take you out to Mister A's.