“San Diego has a sordid history of inadequate planning and project management for big projects,” said Mission Valley resident Phil Hart. He spoke during the non-agenda public comment portion of the July 19 San Diego City Council meeting. “I cannot think of one project that was ever completed on time or within budget,” said Hart, who has been following City of San Diego projects during the past 35 years. “It’s a rotten history.”
Hart expressed his concern for the City’s undertaking of the new central library project and cited past projects that never met estimated budget projections and construction timelines. His list included the Harbor Drive footbridge project, which was initially estimated at $12.8 million in 2005 and is now expected to cost $26.8 million. He referred to the significant discrepancy in cost as “beyond comprehension.”
Hart also made a reference to the extensive modifications to Qualcomm Stadium during the mid ’90s, which were not executed to earthquake standards. Hart indicated that the City has a habit of starting projects with incomplete plans and uncertain financing.
“You see, that’s the San Diego way,” said Hart. “You start a project and then when problems arise, you say, ‘Well we can’t stop now. We have to complete it.’ Then they beg, borrow, or steal the money in order to complete it.”
According to Hart, during a recent visit to the Development Services Department to check if the library project would be built to earthquake standards, he was informed that the permit for the library had expired. Hart said a city employee told him that a new application had been submitted but it was only for the foundation. He then questioned why the City is calling the project “shovel-ready” despite not having a full permit.
Hart told the council that he knew of at least two homeowners who had to tear down building projects that they had started because they didn’t have the proper permits, and that the same standard should apply to the City of San Diego.
“It is not legal to start a project without a building permit!” he told the council.
The City is expected to host a groundbreaking ceremony on July 28 to mark the beginning of construction for the new library.