San Diego's Infrastructure Deficit: Can Prop. H Make a Big Difference?

The city's deferred maintenance backlogs are at an estimated $5 billion

There’s no shortage of documentation for the alarming condition of San Diego's public infrastructure.

From potholes to broken water mains, and crumbling bridges to aging fire stations, the city’s deferred maintenance and delayed building backlogs are estimated at $5 billion.

Could city Proposition H on the June 7 primary election ballot boot up an effective program of fixes?

The measure is aimed at raising $4 billion over 25 years to tackle all the problems -- but not by way of new taxes or tax hikes.

The funding mechanisms to underwrite the remedial projects would be current city revenue sources: sales tax proceeds, growth in general fund revenues and pension cost savings.

But critics worry about shifting too much of those money streams away from other budget needs, and economic downturns that would short-change allocations toward the infrastructure priorities.

Prop. H was put on the ballot by a seven to two vote of the City Council.

It has major backing from the business community, and opposition from several organized labor groups.

City Councilman Scott Sherman, a leading backer of the measure, says the problems have been left to get worse for all too long.

As he told NBC 7 in an interview Tuesday: “This is one to say to taxpayers, 'We heard you , we can live within our means, we can do better, we can give you more bang for the taxpayer dollars you send down here -- and we can get this fixed."

Councilman Todd Gloria, a leading Prop. H opponent thinks the issues might be better addressed with a comprehensive tax measure.

"Seventy-five percent of people want some real change; I think they're willing to embrace change. The difference is, with Prop. H they're told they can have their cake and eat it too. That they can solve this problem and it won't cost another dime," Gloria said.

Among the big-ticket infrastructure deficits that are high-visibility landmarks: Balboa Park, strapped with $300 million worth of deferred maintenance.

And City Hall, 60 years old – and on a listed of municipal buildings considered to be in extremely poor condition.

Replacement cost?

Unknown, but one proposal several years ago carried a price tag of $340 million.

Contact Us