San Diego says cuts to flood channel clearing won't increase risk

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposal to spend significantly less clearing clogged drainage channels has raised concerns about higher flood risk in San Diego, but Faulconer’s staff says there’s no reason to worry.

The city can prudently spend as much as $1.4 million less on clearing flood channels during the fiscal year that begins July 1 because staff has become more efficient at obtaining environmental permits and completing the work, said Kris McFadden, director of the city’s Transportation and Storm Water Department.

“We’re getting better at doing this work, and after refining some of these numbers we’re able to do it cheaper than we had initially been projected to do,” said McFadden, noting that the city has significantly ramped up channel-clearing efforts in recent years. “We’re starting to see economies of scale.”

City Councilman David Alvarez, however, said the city should consider using those savings to increase the number of channels it clears each year, instead of using the money to close a projected $81 million gap in next year’s proposed $1.4 billion budget.

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“Does this mean that maybe we should look at the projects we were going to do in two years and do those now?” asked Alvarez. “If you find efficiencies you always want to do more. It’s not like we’re the shining example of storm channel maintenance in the country — we’re really behind.”

McFadden stressed that the cuts won’t…

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