Proposal streamlines city projects and street repairs - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Proposal streamlines city projects and street repairs

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Kevin Faulconer's plan to reform the infrastructure repair process in San Diego, which is meant to get projects off the ground sooner and completed faster, received a warm reception Tuesday from the City Council.

Around 20 proposals made by Faulconer are designed to change how projects are funded and processed by the city. According to the mayor's office, the streamlining would result in projects being completed 20 percent faster than they are currently.

Councilman Mark Kersey said the proposals will keep bureaucracy from getting in the way of speeding up major construction work.

"People talk about cutting red tape and making government more efficient, and that oftentimes doesn't have a whole lot meaning, but here it really does," said Kersey, who chairs the panel's Infrastructure Committee.

"When you're talking about saving an average of 15 weeks off of most projects, and up to 24 weeks for certain projects -- that's four to six months -- that's substantial time in terms of getting these much-needed projects done and that much sooner that our communities and our citizens can reap the fruits of that work," Kersey said.

The proposals were issued in a package of reports from the Public Works Department and financial management staff, and were accepted unanimously by the City Council.

Most of the ideas can be implemented under mayoral authority, but five will go before the City Council for approval later in the year, Public Works Director James Nagelvoort said.

Now that the city of San Diego's finances are back in order, the focus of city officials has shifted to an infrastructure backlog estimated at nearly $3.9 billion.

Right now, many neighborhood improvement projects -- like parks -- are funded by developer impact fees that accrue over a period of several years, and they don't get built until they're fully funded. A lot of road projects, funded in part by Transnet sales tax revenue, are similar.

Faulconer proposed shifting money for projects that aren't close to being fully funded to those much closer in the pipeline, allowing them to get built. He also wants to make quicker use of leftover money from completed projects, and create a pool for contingency funds, which could lower the contingency budget for individual projects.

His proposed process improvements include accepting public works bids online, combining projects into larger contracts, hiring consultants for a group of projects instead of by individual project, and standardizing designs for fire stations and restrooms, among other things.

According to the mayor's office, materials needed for contractors to make bid are available online, but they can't be filed online. A paperwork error delayed repair work on the Memorial Pool in Logan Heights for several months last year, according to city officials.

Online bidding will be "a big game-changer for us," Nagelvoort said.

He said his staff is working on more streamlining proposals, which will be presented to the City Council in the future.

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