Committee adopts 2 plans to tackle infrastructure backlog

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SAN DIEGO – Infrastructure Committee members unanimously approved two plans to address San Diego’s backlog of infrastructure projects Wednesday.

San Diego currently has an estimated project backlog of at least $900 million.

The city’s first-ever asset management policy is expected to ensure all city assets are accounted for and maintained.

“The city has done, historically, a very, very bad job of just knowing what we have and maintaining it,” said Councilman Mark Kersey. “That’s really what’s gotten us in this position.”

The asset management policy will handle all city infrastructure. That includes streets, sidewalks, storm drains, water mains, libraries and fire stations, to name a few.

The city is also moving forward with the first-ever citywide sidewalk assessment. It will rate both the condition of sidewalks and identify where sidewalks are missing.

Kersey said the city has more than 5,000 miles of sidewalks. Many are in disrepair and not up to A.D.A. standards, making them dangerous for pedestrians.

“The sidewalks are antiquated,” said Adam Stepp, City Heights resident. “They need to be refurbished.”

As the city begins tackling the issues, the council will also have to consider the prevailing wage ordinance approved Tuesday for city public works projects.

The ordinance requires the city and its departments, boards, and agencies to advertise and include specifications requiring compliance with the state prevailing wage law in contracts for public works, which generally include construction, reconstruction or repair of public buildings, streets, and utilities.

Kersey voted against the ordinance and fears it might increase the infrastructure backlog.

“I think it’s going to result, based on what our independent budget analyst has told us, it’s going to result in infrastructure project costs that are going to go up between five and ten percent,” said Kersey. “Effectively what that means is we’re going to be doing fewer projects, because the projects we are doing are going to cost us more money.”

Councilmembers Todd Gloria, Marti Emerald, Sherri Lightner, Myrtle Cole and David Alvarez voted in favor.

“San Diego will benefit from the implementation of this prevailing wage ordinance.  The City Council’s action today will result in higher-quality work and more middle class jobs for our region,” said Council President Todd Gloria Tuesday.