"It’s all about making sure, as I said, that we’re repairing the repair program," said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. "We know our neighborhoods need help now so we’re going to prioritize that with the council and deliver results now."
Around 20 proposals made by Faulconer are designed to change how projects are funded and processed by the city. According to the mayor's office, the streamlining would result in projects being completed 20 percent faster than they are currently.
"Time is money," said Faulconer.
Now that the City of San Diego's finances are back in order, the focus of city officials has shifted to an infrastructure backlog estimated at nearly $3.9 billion.
Right now, many neighborhood improvement projects -- like parks -- are funded by developer impact fees that accrue over a period of several years and they don't get built until they're fully funded.
Faulconer has proposed shifting money for projects that aren't close to being fully funded to those much closer in the pipeline, allowing them to get built. He also wants to make quicker use of leftover money from completed projects, and create a pool for contingency funds, which could lower the contingency budget for individual projects.
His proposed process improvements -- which are in a separate City Council item -- include accepting public works bids online, combining projects into larger contracts, hiring consultants for a group of projects instead of by individual project, and standardizing designs for fire stations, among other things.
"These are valuable tax dollars we want to make sure they’re working," the mayor said. "We’re putting them to use in our neighborhoods now, and not languishing in an account sometimes literally for years with no activity. We’re getting roads paved faster, we’re putting pools like this quicker doing repairs for infrastructure maintenance. We know there’s a lot of work to be doing but the city needs to be much smarter about how it’s working."
According to the mayor's office, materials needed for contractors to make bids are available online, but they can't be filed online. A paperwork error delayed repair work on the Memorial Pool in Logan Heights for several months last year, according to city officials.