Morning Report: San Diego's Infrastructure Deficit Is Growing Despite Spending Increases - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: San Diego's Infrastructure Deficit Is Growing Despite Spending Increases

A crumbling sidewalk in Sherman Heights / Photo by Dustin Michelson

In 2016, San Diego voters passed a ballot measure to help raise money for infrastructure projects. But as it turns out, Proposition H, which went into effect last year, won’t close to funding gap anytime soon. 

Ashly McGlone reports that the city’s infrastructure backlog has climbed to at least $1.86 billion

In fact, the city’s five-year infrastructure funding shortfall is $286 million higher than it was a year ago — and even that figure includes a conservative estimate of how much developers could pay for infrastructure improvements in the coming years. The list of needed repairs includes sidewalks and aging buildings, as well as new streetlights, bike facilities and libraries.

If approved next year, another ballot measure that will help pay for an expanded Convention Center will also help stow away funds for street repairs, but not for the first five years.

City officials have touted record spending on infrastructure in recent years. But the bulk of the city’s infrastructure spending comes directly from consumer and developer fees and other dedicated outside sources, not the discretionary pot of tax money kept in the general fund. 

Gloria Takes Democratic Mayoral Endorsement

Todd Gloria
Assemblyman Todd Gloria is running for mayor of the city of San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Assemblyman Todd Gloria has taken control of San Diego’s mayoral race after winning the Democratic Party’s endorsement Tuesday night.

The party’s endorsement is potentially pivotal in a race that, so far, includes only Democrats and in a city where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by nearly two to one.

The endorsement means the Democratic Party can now spend as much as it would like on Gloria’s behalf, as long as it’s communicating with registered Democrats. In a local race where many voters won’t know much about any candidate — sharing a ballot with a high-profile Democratic presidential primary — the party’s mayoral endorsement could be the only piece of information many voters see.

Gloria won 70 percent of votes cast by the party’s central committee, crossing the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement.

“I hope you can taste that change,” Gloria said to the audience after winning the endorsement. “It is coming next year.”

Gloria out-raised his opponents during the first six months of the year, with about $130,000 more available going forward than Bry, and has racked up endorsements from labor groups and elected officials from across the state. At Tuesday’s meeting, state Sen. President Pro Tem Toni Atkins spoke on his behalf, the most high-profile official to participate in the process.

Before the vote, the only question was whether Councilwoman Barbara Bry and community activist Tasha Williamson, the other two Democrats vying for the endorsement, could keep the party from endorsing anyone until after the primary.

“We are fighting for the soul of our city,” Bry said to a group of supporters before the vote. “We’re going to win no matter what happens tonight.”

Williamson said the party’s decision makers are not reflective of all registered Democrats, and the room was full of people who had power and privilege.

“That power and privilege needs to be distributed equitably,” she said. “I am a different candidate, and I’m looking for people power.”

What’s next: Now that the party has made its decision, all eyes will be on any Republican who might consider getting into the race. It would still qualify as a shock if no Republican stages a mayoral campaign in a city currently run by a Republican. Councilman Mark Kersey, an independent who left the GOP earlier this year, and Councilman Scott Sherman are getting the most attention.

But if neither of them gets in the race, it’s possible Bry could mount a case to get Republicans — or folks connected to pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Building Industry Association that are typically aligned with conservatives — to consider supporting her bid.

Pointing a Lens at Black Life in Southern California

In the Culture Report, Julia Dixon Evans gives us a sneak peek of a new photography exhibition that opens this weekend at the San Diego Museum of Art’s Fleming Gallery. It showcases a wide range of black life in Southern California in the mid-20th Century — from the civil rights movement to the every day.

The photographs were taken at a time in which the medium itself was also changing. The exhibit is free, and the curator hopes to encourage San Diego’s black community and their visitors to experience the museum.

Plus: the Union-Tribune’s third annual Festival Books is coming to Liberty Station. It’s free and Dixon Evans will be speaking on a panel, so you should go listen. (No pressure, Julia.)

Your Questions About Homelessness Answered

Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt joined us on Facebook for a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) Monday to answer questions about homelessness in the San Diego Region.

Halverstadt has spent months working on a series about the region’s mental health crisis and years reporting on homelessness in San Diego. She talked about what’s causing homelessness, how other cities have tackled the problem and common myths.

In case you missed it, we pulled together some notable moments from the conversation.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Jesse Marx, and edited by Andrew Keatts.

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