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Funds allocated for Alvarado St. sidewalk, CDBG revisions forced

The approval of the state budget which included the suspension of Highway Users Tax Account and Proposition 42 payments to local governments has adversely affected the County of San Diego’s matching funds for certain Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) construction projects, forcing revisions to the CDBG program which defer some projects while allocating additional funding to other projects.

The Ammunition Road sidewalk preliminary engineering and design project and the Clemmens Lane sidewalk design project were among seven projects eliminated from the 2009-10 program while the three projects which received additional funding include the Alvarado Street sidewalk construction project. A 5-0 vote September 22 by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors authorized the changes which reallocated $936,567 of Fiscal Year 2009-10 funding and $713,500 in funding from previous years.

The 2009-2010 annual funding plan for Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnerships, Emergency Shelter Grant, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS programs expenditures was approved by the Board of Supervisors on May 5. Although the 2009-10 CDBG plan had to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by May 15, HUD was operating on a continuing resolution and the county had not seen its actual 2009-10 allocation. The county’s preliminary allocation was based on 2008-09 entitlement figures, and the 2009-10 funding allocations were finalized in June.

Many of the projects involving sidewalks or other road improvements relied on the use of gas tax revenue to supplement the CDBG funding. In addition to the deferral of the Highway Users Tax Account and Proposition 42 payments (Proposition 42 was passed by the state’s voters in the June 2002 election and earmarked the sales tax on gasoline for transportation funding), the current economic depression has resulted in a decrease in fuel sales and a corresponding decrease of tax revenue. The county’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is not currently able to commit to meeting its expenditure requirement, and if a CDBG-funded project is not completed in a reasonable period of time the money must be returned to HUD.

The DPW and the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development, which oversees the CDBG process, determined that the best option was to cancel all but one of the DPW public improvement projects and reallocate the CDBG funds to provide full funding to three sidewalk construction projects which had received previous CDBG funding.

In the initial 2009-10 allocations, the county supervisors had allocated $77,500 for the engineering and design of sidewalks along Ammunition Road between Alturas Road and the shopping center known as Town Center and $77,500 for the design of sidewalks along Clemmens Lane between Mission Road and Old Stage Road. Although those projects have been eliminated from the current CDBG plan, funding may be available in the future.

“Time will tell,” said David Estrella, the director of the Department of Housing and Community Development. “We’re just working hard to implement them as soon as possible.

Estrella added that money may be available for some of the cancelled projects once other projects are completed.

The Ammunition Road sidewalk project will provide for the preliminary engineering and design of curbs, gutters, and sidewalks on the north side of Ammunition Road and will add approximately 600 feet of sidewalks to complete a missing segment. The design work had an estimated completion date of June 2010, and the DPW estimated additional costs of $50,000 for right-of-way acquisition and $250,000 for construction.

The Clemmens Lane sidewalk project will design curbs, gutters, and sidewalks on either side of Clemmens Lane between Mission Road and Old Stage Road. CDBG funds for preliminary engineering and right-of-way were allocated in 2004, and the design phase was also expected to be complete by June 2010. The future estimated costs include $75,000 for right-of-way acquisition and $1,000,000 for construction.

The reallocations added $1,013,500 for the completion of the sidewalks on Alvarado Street between Potter Street and Mercedes Road. Additional funding was also provided to projects in Lincoln Acres and Casa de Oro.

The extension of sidewalks on Alvarado Street will provide a continuous walking path for pedestrians using Alvarado Street for La Paloma School, Fallbrook Hospital and the health clinic. The East Alvarado Street sidewalk project will fund the construction

of sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and minor drainage improvements on the south side of East Alvarado Street from Potter Street to Mercedes Road.

The 2006-07 CDBG funding included $35,000 for preliminary engineering for the installation of sidewalks on the south side of Alvarado Street from Potter Street to one-half mile west of Mercedes Road, and the 2007-08 CDBG allocations included $100,000 for the design and right-of-way acquisition for the portion between Potter Street and Mercedes Road.

In May 2008 the Board of Supervisors allocated $278,174 for construction of the sidewalks which at the time had an total estimated construction cost of $585,000; the county’s Department of Public Works planned to use gas tax revenue to fund the remaining $306,826.

In an effort to qualify 31 projects for Federal economic stimulus funding, the County of San Diego added those projects, including the construction of sidewalks along Alvarado Street from Brandon Road and Potter Street to Mercedes Road, to the Regional Transportation Improvement Program following a February 25 Board of Supervisors vote.

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