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Carl DeMaio is the man with a plan to Save Our Streets from potholes. His new SOS initiative, rolled out yesterday, claims it can raise between $335 million and $497 million over the next five years to be poured into road maintenance and upgrades.

It’s no secret to residents that San Diego’s streets are in a state of disrepair – TRIP, a Washington, DC based transportation research group, rates San Diego as the eighth worst city in the country in terms of road maintenance. The group estimates 50% of the city’s roads are in “poor” condition, a figure the city contends is only about 17%.

According to DeMaio’s calculations, the city’s budget deficit for street operations and maintenance tops $60 million annually. To meet his goal of 60% of streets being “good,” 30% being “fair,” and 10% being “poor,” (changed from 38%, 45%, and 17%, respectively, at present) would require expenditures of $116.6 million annually over the next five years.

To get this money, he proposes establishing a “lock box” fund that relies on expected increases in city revenues. The increases in revenue would be required to go toward roads funding before anything else, including expenditures such as funding city pensions or expanding or restoring funding to other services. Additionally, DeMaio is suggesting that all net revenue from the sale, lease, or development of city assets go directly into funding street repairs.

If implemented, DeMaio would take 25% of the overall road budget and divide it equally among 4 “teams,” two consisting of city employees and two staffed by independent contractors (another facet of DeMaio’s plan involves bringing in more outside contractors and opening the bidding process up to non-union developers). These teams would be assigned a similar territory and compete for two years to see which crew could complete the most repairs in the shortest time and with the lowest budget. It’s assumed after this trial period the superior crew’s methodology would be adopted on a wider scale.

Other points of the proposal include forcing other entities such as private utilities or the city’s water department to honor warranties given stating that they’ll restore streets to a similar or improved condition after any excavation is performed, and the creation of an office of Deputy Mayor of Infrastructure. This new position would oversee the departments of Public Works, Public Utilities, Water, Engineering & Capital Projects, General Services, Metropolitan Wastewater, Transportation & Storm Water, Real Estate Assets, Environmental Services, and the Street Division.

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