City’s postponed maintenance may cost over $1B

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street-repairSAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego’s backlog of maintenance and capital improvement needs — pegged variously at $800 million to $900 million — could actually be approaching $1 billion, according to an estimate released Wednesday.

In a memo to his colleagues, Councilman Mark Kersey said the prior assessments did not include work needed on Petco Park, Qualcomm Stadium, sidewalks, piers and water and wastewater improvements. Additionally, he noted, a consultant suggested the city build 10 new fire stations in order to meet fire and safety standards.

The information is contained in a proposed work plan for the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee, which will meet for the first time on Monday. Kersey chairs the new panel.

“As we begin to emerge from our fiscal woes, we have to address cracked sidewalks, pothole-filled roads, broken storm drains and city facilities that are falling apart in our neighborhoods,” Kersey said. “We will be creating strategies to deliver projects faster, going into the communities to listen to their priorities, and developing a five-year plan to fix our long-neglected infrastructure needs.”

San Diego was unable to fully fund its infrastructure needs over the past decade because of its fiscal woes. City workers have picked up the pace in fixing up streets over the past two years, however.

Kersey will propose that the city properly catalogue its infrastructure needs, identify one-time financial investments to pay for those needs, establish the best management and fiscal practices, determine acceptable service levels and performance measures, hold community meetings to take public input, and come up with a policy that defines how a need becomes a project.

Among the problems the city faces in dealing with its infrastructure deficit, according to the report:

  • while the condition of streets was surveyed two years ago, it did not include the state of sidewalks;
  • many needs do not fall under the city’s general fund, which disguises the extent of backlog;
  • assessments have not been made on more than 1,100 facilities owned or managed by the city;
  • while industry best practices are to set aside 4 percent of replacement value for annual maintenance of a facility, the city has been spending 0.5 percent; and
  • the city does not have a comprehensive approach to identifying and prioritizing needs, which are handled individually by departments.

The councilman also called for additional measures to streamline projects.


  • Ray

    Seems to me a Deferred Maintenance Czar is needed to (a) establish a comprehensive database of repair needs and (b) prioritize them based upon criteria such as danger to life, cosmetic, etc. then the Czar should be allocated a budget to get items cleared by the most economical means available. Large projects go Managed Competition. Small projects fastest way available.

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