By Jim Miller
“There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican pothole.”
Remember that pat line that Kevin Faulconer used ad nauseam during the mayor’s race? Well out here in the real world after the election, neither variety of potholes is getting fixed very quickly, and Faulconer’s fine words about efficiency and commitment to infrastructure are long forgotten once the press conferences are over.
A case in point is my Golden Hill neighborhood, where residents recently posted angry signs before they cleared several cone-blocked streets and dozens of “no parking” signs on their own after four months and counting of inaction in the wake of a Faulconer press conference where he promised big things.
As the San Diego Reader reported back in April:
Faulconer said the city has been rightfully criticized in the past for poorly coordinating infrastructure projects. For instance, the city would pave a street and then tear it up a couple months later for a sewer or water project. This project would be different, he said. The area would soon be due for a water-main replacement, so that project was consolidated with the other planned improvements.
As I write this in late August, nothing has been delivered for over four months but more potholes, bad water pressure, occasional geysers erupting from broken above-ground pipes, constant foul-ups, car accidents caused by obstructed views, perpetually unfinished sidewalks complete with dangerous uncovered holes, and a Waiting for Godot action plan.
It is true that a few days before the cones and signs were relocated by my neighborhood’s crew of soft vigilantes in mid-July, Monica Munoz, the senior Public Information Officer for Public Works happened to be strolling by my house where she came upon my wife who she informed that “things were getting taken care of” and we “would see big changes soon.”
When my wife asked why a giant pile of dirt and heavy equipment had been abandoned in the middle of our street for months on end with no action, Munoz shared that the city had had trouble getting in contact with the job supervisor from the company that had been hired to do the work because he was “on vacation.” It must have been a pretty long trip because that pile of garbage sat untouched in the middle of the street for two months before they sent somebody out to clean it up.
It’s now been another month at least since Munoz’s promise of “big changes,” and the only new development we’ve seen is a door-hanger delivered last week informing us that they would soon be resuming work and would tow our cars if we didn’t move them promptly upon warning.
So far the “No Parking” signs haven’t materialized, but I’m sure they’ll come and rip our street up again soon and force us along with our neighbors to walk several blocks through a construction zone every time we need to bring in groceries or laundry. The local businesses have also certainly enjoyed having their entrances blocked and “beautified” by the endless construction.
That joy combined with waking up first thing in the morning to jackhammers and heavy equipment and cleaning up after the garbage the construction workers toss in our yards will surely improve our quality of life this fall. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the last five months of adventures in infrastructure “improvements,” but I think they may soon have to put up a sign over 25th Street that reads, “Golden Hill: Where the Fun Never Stops.”
The most amusing part of this comedy of errors is that the latest door-hanger promised that the water main replacements and street resurfacing would be done by “mid-2014.” Now while it is true that I teach English rather than math, I’m pretty sure that mid-year would have been June, but perhaps my ideological bias against the Faulconer administration is clouding my view of the matter.
Not to worry though: Munoz did assure my wife that, once everything was done, it would be “beautiful.” Indeed, they’ve got nowhere to go but up on this one.
Call me crazy, but something tells me that if the city displayed this level of stunning incompetence, horrendous communication, infrastructural Whack-A-Mole, and WTF urban planning in the well-heeled suburbs, there would be hell to pay. But in my neck of the woods, where most of the folks are renters with substantial chunks of them being twenty-somethings and working class people of color, apparently they think they can get away with it. Either that or they are just that bad, period.
I guess the mayor’s office is too busy screwing the poor by trying to block the minimum wage increase to deal with the city’s infrastructure more efficiently after all. At least that’s the way it looks south of I-8 and east of I-5. But perhaps, if we are lucky, once it’s all over and the “25th Street Renaissance” has “beautified” my neighborhood, the infrastructural improvements will have paved the way for yet another wave of gentrification that will price us out of our rentals.
Somewhere a developer must be smiling.