FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 15, 2022
SAN DIEGO – In furtherance of his commitment to fix San Diego’s long-neglected streets, Mayor Todd Gloria announced today that he is bringing forward amendments to the City’s Street Preservation Ordinance, which will help fix more roads faster. The proposed changes to the outdated ordinance will ensure that private utilities, City crews and contractors who excavate in the right of way are held to a high standard of complete and timely repairs.
The proposed amendments will also enhance street safety by requiring higher quality resurfacing after trenching and tighter time limits for temporary asphalt patches, which often sink and make the streets uneven. The updated guidelines also will improve coordination among all projects operating in the right-of-way, reducing repeated work on the same street to limit impacts on communities.
“San Diegans deserve better streets, and the updates to the Street Preservation Ordinance will deliver a big impact quickly,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “We’re holding utilities – both public and private – accountable to provide full restoration of our streets after digging them up, without expecting the residents of San Diego to subsidize those repairs for private companies. It’s a simple concept: If you break it, you should fix it.”
Historically, San Diego has struggled to keep up with needed repair and maintenance of our public right-of-way, a challenge Mayor Gloria has prioritized, with additional funding for road repair in his first two budgets as Mayor, as well as efforts to identify and fix processes and policies that slow down repair. In addition to major investments in infrastructure, the Mayor and City staff are implementing internal process improvements and put forth major policy initiatives like Build Better SD and updates to Council Policy 800-14, which guides capital investment priorities.
“It’s past time to take a look at the Street Preservation Ordinance to ensure utility providers are paying their fair share of the costs when they dig up our streets,” said Councilmember von Wilpert, who chairs the City Council’s Active Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “We must make sure that the trenching process does not lead to premature degradation of our roads, leaving the taxpayers responsible for much larger costs of repair down the road.”
With major infrastructure investments and the accelerating rollout of broadband infrastructure, trenching activity is only expected to increase. Previous studies have shown that trenching in the public right-of-way leaves lasting impacts on roads and reduces their service life, leading to poorer road condition, more frequent repairs and added costs under the City’s general fund.
To alleviate these impacts and added costs, proposed changes to the ordinance include defining major excavation as a trench greater than 6 inches wide or greater than 3 feet in depth; changing existing moratoriums on asphalt overlay from 5 years to 3 years and slurry seal from 3 years to 1 year; requiring most trenching and restoration work to be completed within 180 days; and adjusting the street damage fee to ensure the public is made whole for the total cost of damages and reduced service life from activity on our right of way. This will increase the longevity of roads and account for the costs of damages upfront, rather than allowing repairs to become an unfunded burden on taxpayers.
The updated Street Preservation Ordinance will be considered by City Council’s Active Transportation and Infrastructure Committee tomorrow.