Residents of San Diego's least prosperous neighborhoods say they're being neglected by City Hall, when it comes to municipal improvement projects.
And they fear that money allocated to their communities is at risk of being forfeited, if not spent in a timely fashion.
Auditors looking into the city's process of dealing with "pothole issues" have cited major delays in getting capital improvement' contracts awarded throughout San Diego.
But neighborhood activists in Council Districts 4 and 8, south of Interstate 8, say it's especially hard on them, because they don't believe they have a level playing field to begin with.
"Many of the disparities that we speak about are happening in communities of color, and we see this," says Pastor Terrell Fletcher, senior pastor and founder of City of Hope International at Faith Chapel in Lincoln Park.
"We have a voice; we are voters," Fletcher added, at a Monday news conference attended by two dozen grass-roots activists outside the church. "We are taxpayers as well. So we do our part of community leaders, as churches, as residents, to stand and cry out. And to make sure that 'the wheel is squeaking', so that we can get oil on it."
Residents of the chapel's surrounding neighborhoods would seem to welcome the noise, dust and disruptions that come with sidewalk installation projects.
They've been promised one along Holly Drive since 2008, and $2 million in federal and state funds are in hand.
But if not spent by next year, "use it or lose it" regulations kick in.
The Holly Drive project is one of scores of capital improvement projects throughout San Diego that auditors say have been tied up by red tape and inefficiencies at City Hall.
"I challenge them to listen to us in the community," said Southcrest resident Eva Vargas, her voice quavering with emotion, during the news conference. "This is what holds up the city of San Diego. We hold up the city of San Diego."
More than three years ago, $1.6 million was committed to finishing Southcrest Trails Park. But community activists say the study phase is way behind schedule, and the target completion date of Autumn, 2103 is in serious doubt.
"Why is that?" asked Christie Hill, senior legal and policy analyst for the Center on Policy Initiatives. "There's nowhere to go, currently, that gives you those answers. And so the community -- rightfully so -- wants to know how and why. And the basic answers to questions that right now, just remain as questions."
Aiming to clear up those questions and confusions, the mayor's office on Monday announced plans for a new website feature, allowing online status-tracking of nearly a thousand infrastructure projects.
It's part of a streamlining effort that began last July, cutting the project-bidding process in half, that goes before the City Council next week.
Meantime, officials say the Lincoln Park sidewalk project has been delayed by a lengthy but unavoidable legal process of clearing "rights of way".
Work is scheduled to begin next February, four months before "use it or lose it" spending deadlines fall.
As for Southcrest Trails Park, city officials say the project “has been stuck because the park exceeds the noise limits pursuant to our CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) guidelines."