San Diego leaders announced plans Thursday to begin funding fixes to emergency response delays disproportionately plaguing some of the city’s neediest neighborhoods.
The city expects to allocate $3 million toward land and design costs for new fire stations on Home Avenue in City Heights and in Skyline as part of a $120 million infrastructure loan scheduled for City Council approval in January.
Home Avenue and Skyline are two of the five neighborhoods within 9 ½ square miles south and east of downtown identified by a consultant almost three years ago as having the highest risk of a delayed emergency response in the city. Home Avenue topped the list, followed by Paradise Hills, College Area, Skyline and Encanto.
The neighborhoods are among the city’s poorest and brownest. City leaders have broken numerous promises about funding new fire facilities in those neighborhoods.
In July, we told the story of residents in those neighborhoods who had been shot, burned, in need of oxygen and in cardiac arrest who waited far longer than the Fire-Rescue Department’s 7 minute, 30 second response time goal for help to arrive.
All three major mayoral candidates now list bolstering emergency response times among their top priorities if they’re elected.
The potential funding revealed Thursday won’t be enough to build the new stations, but it’s the first time the city will put money toward them. The loan, announced by interim mayor Todd Gloria and Council members Marti Emerald and Mark Kersey at an existing fire station in City Heights, will primarily provide funds to repair broken city streets, storm drains and buildings. There’s also $1 million for busted sidewalks.
Former Mayor Bob Filner had delayed the loan in a cost-saving move, and the amount has grown from a planned $80 million to $120 million.
Kersey’s infrastructure committee will discuss the loan next week, and the Council is expected to sign off in January.