LOS ANGELES – The San Diego City Council Infrastructure Committee on Monday approved $121 million in lease revenue bonds for street repairs, public safety building improvements, and a variety of other projects.

The proposed issuance is part of a $500 million plan approved by the City Council four years ago to help the city catch up on an estimated $1 billion in deferred infrastructure projects, said San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey, chair of the Infrastructure Committee.

“The $500 million program wasn’t project based. It was more of a recognition that the city needed to do something about deferred infrastructure maintenance,” Kersey said. “It doesn’t catch us up, but it’s a good down payment.”

The city already has issued $212 million in lease revenue bonds to pay for such projects under the $500 million outlined in the city proposal.

“An investment surge is critical to reversing years of neglect that’s plagued our neighborhoods,” Kersey said.

The bond proposal moves to the full City Council and is expected to be heard in January. The bonds would be issued in two series: $67 million in April 2014 and $54 million in April 2015.

The city’s Public Facilities Financing Authority would issue the fixed-rate 30-year bonds competitively. Revenues to repay the bonds would come from leases on essential unencumbered properties under a 2012 master lease structure.

The true interest cost is estimated to be 5.13%. The estimated debt service would be $4.4 million in fiscal 2015, $7.9 million in fiscal 2016-2044, and $3.5 million in fiscal 2045.

The bond proposal would fund $43 million in street repairs, $48 million to repair and expand fire stations, and $21 million for upgrades to San Diego storm drains. The bonds also would pay for other improvements including $1 million for sidewalk repairs and $4.7 million for American Disability Act improvements to complete a 1997 ADA transition plan.

The current infrastructure backlog is priced at nearly $1 billion but the city’s Independent Budget Analyst recently reported that the estimate is low and could be as much as double once several big ticket items are taken into account, according to Kersey’s staff. In addition, some assets have yet to be assessed, including San Diego’s 5,000 miles of sidewalks and its park and recreation facilities.

The council approved $11 million to conduct the assessments on the city’s infrastructure needs in this year’s budget, Kersey said.

Kersey is conducting neighborhood meetings throughout the city to gather comments as the city works on its first five-year infrastructure plan. That plan will be the first step in the city drafting a long-term plan for rebuilding and maintaining San Diego’s infrastructure.

A draft outline of the five-year plan will be discussed at the next Infrastructure Committee meeting on Monday.

Kersey envisions the five-year infrastructure plan as a living document that will be revised every year as part of the city’s budget process.

“San Diego needs to do a much better job in strategic planning for infrastructure,” Kersey said.

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