San Diego

Faulconer Proposes $3B City Budget; Community Upgrades Get Emphasis

San Diego's third city budget put together by Mayor Kevin Faulconer keeps a focus on upgrading public facilities.

It's a high priority in opinion polls, and this is a re-election year.

There's a world of crumbling infrastructure to be repaired and replaced citywide -- especially in neglected neighborhoods.

But critics say that leaves a lot to be desired in other areas.

It's always, literally, a balancing act – and the mayor’s bottom line pencils out to $3.3 billion.

"I'll tell you, this is more infrastructure than we've ever done -- this year, more than $500 million alone in infrastructure, both in road repair and our infrastructure budget,” Faulconer said following a Thursday news conference in Sherman Heights, a neighborhood represented by his frequent adversary on the City Council, David Alvarez.

“This year, more than $500 million alone in infrastructure,” the mayor added. “My commitment was 50 percent of all new revenue while I was mayor was going to go to infrastructure. In this budget it's actually 70 percent."

A five year plan to fix 1,000 miles of roadways is well ahead of schedule.

Meantime, police officer salaries will be boosted by $6 million.

But with crime rates increasing and the understaffed police department barely able to keep up with attrition, one of the mayor's re-election challengers, Ed Harris, argues that the budget "does next to nothing to address the crisis".

Still, residents whose neighborhoods have long been overlooked by city hall are happy about the emphasis on community upgrades.

"I've been a homeowner and resident for 16 years and I definitely see that things have changed, especially in these last years,” Pita Verdin told NBC 7. “And I'm very grateful to the mayor for the infrastructure he did in our community, and he continues to do it."

But Balboa Park activists aren't seeing the budget address $300 million in deferred maintenance.

"If the park was a condominium complex," said David Lundin, president of the Balboa Park Heritage Assn., "the state would shut down the homeowners association."

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