By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
Every year about this time, Navajo Community Planners, Inc. (NCPI) compiles a list of badly needed projects in the Navajo area.
The planners do this because, every year about this time, the San Diego City Council is in the throes of figuring the budget for the coming fiscal year.
There is always hope that, somehow, needed projects will pop up in the budget. Once again this year, it appears those hopes are not going to be realized.
The NCPI listed four needed projects that have been under consideration for years.
At the top of their list are two projects that are at least still breathing — the design and resolution of the Alvarado Creek storm water and flooding issues, and the realignment of Alvarado Canyon Road.
The Alvarado Creek matter is under planning and design consideration now, with community meetings and workshops designed to get consensus about how to go about it, along with the study about redevelopment around the Grantville Trolley stop.
City Senior Planner Lisa Lind heads up this effort, and she said they’re getting good information and looking ahead. The planning should be completed by September, which will put the project at the 30 percent done level — the level of completion that will allow the city to apply for state and federal grants to help pay for construction.
“But I don’t see anything coming up in this year’s [city] budget,” Lind said. “We’re not really ready for the money yet.
It’s a long process, and we’ll just have to see what happens once we get through the planning and design work.”
Part of the problem with these efforts is that there are other agencies and interests involved. The Metropolitan Transit System owns part of the Alvarado Creek route; CalTrans is involved to a degree with the work around the freeway areas; the Regional Water Quality Control Board has oversight. There are also a number of private property owners who have to be considered as well.
Getting them all on the same page is a major effort.
A more complete update on where the project is in the process will be presented at the June NCPI meeting, Lind said.
The Alvarado Canyon Road realignment is somewhat simpler, in that it’s basically a city project that will move the road from 380 feet east of the Fairmount Avenue and Camino Del Rio North intersection to the Fairmount Avenue and Mission Gorge Road intersection. The project calls for building a structure over the existing concrete drainage channel, removal of some pavement, and traffic signal modifications.
The project carries an estimated $19 million price tag.
David Smith of El Dorado Properties, one of the private parties involved with both projects, said he’s happy about the fact that both projects are still alive, but wonders why the law governing developer impact fees cannot be used in the very area — Grantville — where they were collected in the first place.
“Since 1988, about $3,700,000 in developer impact funds have been spent throughout the district. Of that, only $128,000 has been spent in Grantville,” Smith said. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend some of that money to jumpstart Grantville projects that would only bring in more developer fees?”
A case could be made for that, but the law doesn’t allow it.
There is some good news for the realignment project. Councilmember Scott Sherman’s director of outreach Liz Saidkhanian announced at the May NCPI meeting that the city has set aside $1 million to start developing a plan to complete the project. The money is a drop in the bucket, considering the total price tag, but without it the city would have a hard time convincing other agencies, such as transit or state agencies, to help fund it.
There were actually four projects on the NCPI’s wish list. The final two might have an even a harder time getting funds form the city given the well-aired budget constraints.
The Pershing school joint-use facility in San Carlos, which has an estimated cost of $7.6 million — $6.5 million of which are unfunded; and the demolition and replacement of the Allied Gardens Recreation Center, with an estimated price tag of $10.6 million. Dollars. Both projects are now on the shelf, with no immediate plans active.
You can look up the financing plans for these projects on the city’s website, and the problem is obvious. At the bottom of the project descriptions is a box, showing where the funding for each comes from.
On all of them, you’ll see the word “uniden.” That’s short for “unidentified funding source.”
What that means is, “We don’t have the money to do this, we don’t know where the money is going to come from to do it, and we don’t know when the money will come.”
Hard words, but that’s how it works — or doesn’t work.
—Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.