How do you get the city to fund a project important to you and your community?
To even get it considered, it has to get on a needs list. These are formulated by the various city departments, based on input including, but not limited to, “elected officials, community based organizations, private residents, operations and maintenance staff, or other stakeholders” (San Diego City Council, 2013, CIP Needs List section, para. 1).
Then, these needs are then prioritized according to Council Policy 800–14 (San Diego City Council, 2013, D. Prioritization Factors section), taking into account things like funding source restrictions (e.g. TransNet funds can only be used for transportation projects within the City Right-of-Way), project phase (what level of completion / step in the process it is in), and asset categorization (what type of project it is). The prioritization factors are:
- Risk to Health, Safety and Environment and Regulatory or Mandated Requirements
- Asset Condition, Annual Recurring Costs and Asset Longevity
- Community Investment and Economic Prosperity
- Level and Quality of Service
- Sustainability and Conservation
- Funding Availability
- Project Readiness
- Multiple Category Benefit and Bundling Opportunities
Finally, if a project is high enough on a list, there are no issues with city bureaucracy, and the funding is available, the project is initiated. This is the essence of the city’s Capital Improvement Program, its “financial plan for the repair and/or construction of municipal infrastructure.”
Does that sound like a complicated and multi-layered process?
I want to create a simpler, more community-driven alternative to supplement these department needs lists, and add an easy way for citizens to contribute to projects they support.
I would create a crowdsourcing platform (think of GoFundMe or Kickstarter), where people could post prospective project ideas for which other communities members could express their support, opposition, or comments/ideas; or where they could contribute to the project financially or in kind (volunteering to help build a path, for example). This could be anything from pop-up traffic calming to a new path to get kids safely to school.
This way, we give the people a direct voice at the table as to what community needs they feel need to be addressed.
I’m advocating this as something to augment rather than replace our current process.
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If you want to learn more about how stuff is currently done, here are some resources:
San Diego City Council. (2013, November 13). City of San Diego, California Council Policy № 800–14: Prioritizing Capital Improvement Program Projects. Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://docs.sandiego.gov/councilpolicies/cpd_800-14.pdf