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Mind the Gap

Efforts to bridge the gap between north and south University City failed during Wednesday's Land Use and Housing Committee meeting in San Diego City Council Chambers. The proposed Regents Road Bridge over Rose Canyon has been debated in the community and promoted at City Hall since the 1960s. In 2006, the council approved the project, but a lawsuit forced the City to attain an environmental-impact report before proceeding. The proposal to build the bridge is once again before councilmembers.

At Wednesday's committee meeting, councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Kevin Faulconer, Tony Young, and chair Todd Gloria were asked to award Helix Environmental Planning Incorporated $675,423 for the preparation of an environmental-impact report in addition to $1,832,052 to Product Design Corporation for preliminary architectural, lighting, and aesthetic designs.

Patti Boekamp, the director of Engineering and Capital Projects Division, gave councilmembers some background on the project. After the presentation, District 1 councilmember Sherri Lightner, whose district the project falls in, asked Boekamp for an estimate for the total cost of the project.

"I don't have that figure because it has not been designed," responded Boekamp.

"What was the last estimate?" asked Lightner.

"The last estimate was about $37 million dollars. But we're actually cautioned not to talk too much about construction because, you know, you haven't made a decision to build or not build."

Nearly two hours of public comment followed the presentation. Dozens of residents spoke in favor and in opposition to the project. Those in favor said the proposal is outdated, unneeded, and environmentally irresponsible, while proponents say the bridge would reduce emergency response time and reduce traffic in the community.

After public comment, Lightner debunked the project and gave updated dollar figures for the Financial Benefit Assessment (FBA) funds that were budgeted for the project.

"I am confident that there is no way that the FBA will have $37 million to build the bridge. Authorizing this study would be like throwing money away. Currently the FBA only has $3.5 million dollars available. There may never be enough money to fund it."

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Efforts to bridge the gap between north and south University City failed during Wednesday's Land Use and Housing Committee meeting in San Diego City Council Chambers. The proposed Regents Road Bridge over Rose Canyon has been debated in the community and promoted at City Hall since the 1960s. In 2006, the council approved the project, but a lawsuit forced the City to attain an environmental-impact report before proceeding. The proposal to build the bridge is once again before councilmembers.

At Wednesday's committee meeting, councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Kevin Faulconer, Tony Young, and chair Todd Gloria were asked to award Helix Environmental Planning Incorporated $675,423 for the preparation of an environmental-impact report in addition to $1,832,052 to Product Design Corporation for preliminary architectural, lighting, and aesthetic designs.

Patti Boekamp, the director of Engineering and Capital Projects Division, gave councilmembers some background on the project. After the presentation, District 1 councilmember Sherri Lightner, whose district the project falls in, asked Boekamp for an estimate for the total cost of the project.

"I don't have that figure because it has not been designed," responded Boekamp.

"What was the last estimate?" asked Lightner.

"The last estimate was about $37 million dollars. But we're actually cautioned not to talk too much about construction because, you know, you haven't made a decision to build or not build."

Nearly two hours of public comment followed the presentation. Dozens of residents spoke in favor and in opposition to the project. Those in favor said the proposal is outdated, unneeded, and environmentally irresponsible, while proponents say the bridge would reduce emergency response time and reduce traffic in the community.

After public comment, Lightner debunked the project and gave updated dollar figures for the Financial Benefit Assessment (FBA) funds that were budgeted for the project.

"I am confident that there is no way that the FBA will have $37 million to build the bridge. Authorizing this study would be like throwing money away. Currently the FBA only has $3.5 million dollars available. There may never be enough money to fund it."

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Comments
3

Maybe if we stopped giving all our tax money to developers to build un needed housing (5 million to build "the Boulevard) we would have $ to build things like bridges.

I suspect we are being way overcharged as usual so I think there should be a major revamp of the costs, but I would support tax $ to build bridges over housing anyday.

There is no real oversight, council just throws $ at these people and then doesnt make sure they are getting what they have paid for....just look at "the Rennaisance" at 30th and El Cajon....pretty sure we were overcharged for that piece of garbage.

June 24, 2010

The rationale for building this bridge no longer exists. Traffic volumes on Genesee Avenue north of Governor Drive are way down - below 29,000 ADT as of November 2009. Compare this with the 1987 volume of 32,500 ADT, and the projections of 42,000 ADT. Bridge proponents have long since realized that there is no valid reason for the bridge based on traffic, so a few years ago they started singing a different tune, emphasizing emergency services. Their fearmongering backfired however when it was pointed out that one could build about six new fire stations for the cost of this bridge. The UC Planning Group and CD 1 Councilmember Lightner understand that the priority projects for the North UC FBA budget should be the Genesee - I5 interchange and additional fire stations. We'll all be lucky if the FBA can see those projects through. The community is already 95% built out and there won't be any money left for the bridge. Good riddance to a bad project.

June 25, 2010

Just when I had become quite comfortable entirely giving up on a council majority ever getting anything right, that damned Sherri Lightner comes a long and gives me some HOPE for our city government! There is no money in the FBA for this or any other project in University City because Mayor Jerry and the BIA have kept FBA fees from being raised and because the economic collapse has kept even the meager fees they have approved from coming in. (You think you know somebody who's upside down on an adjustable mortgage? The FBA is $35 million on the short side of what it was supposed to collect--now that's upside down.) But does that matter to Patti Boekamp, the hapless head of Engineering and Capital Projects? Nope, she understands, on a profound level, how comfortable and entertained observers like me are when the city once again does something magnificently stupid. So in an effort to give me some more political catnip, darling Patti proposed draining the $3 million left in the FBA and giving it to her pal Bruce McIntyre at Helix so that he could produce an EIR on a project that can't ever be built and for which there is no funding. Ah, the synapses of cynicism in my brain were just aching for the fix Patti was about to deliver. But nope, enter Sherri Lightner -- "Little Miss The Numbers Have to Add Up." Don't get me wrong--Sherri and Donna do us a great service showing how stupid the city can be; it really helps deepen the cynicism when two very smart people have publicly explained the inanity/corruption of what city staff wants to do and then the majority go along with staff. Yummmm. But not this time; Sherri was not only dead right on the merits, horrors of horror, she got a majority of the committee (and probably the entire council) to do the right thing! Now I have that most inconvenient of feelings, hope. Damn.

June 25, 2010

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