By Louis Rodolico
One of the main reasons I am running for City Council is to increase safety in my community.
The original University plan had three highways of four lanes each crossing Rose Canyon and unifying the University area. Governor to Gillman was taken out of the plan years ago. Genesee Avenue was built in the 1960s.
The wrestling match now is whether or not to build the four-lane Regents Road Bridge so there would be 8 lanes in service. Not building the Regents Road bridge generates an additional 15 major accidents each year due to funneling all the traffic meant for 12 lanes into four lanes at Genesee.
The main impetus for my running is that I do not want to leave those lives and injuries on the table. An additional consequence of not building the bridge is that we may now need two new fire stations instead of one.
Ironically, one central fire station would provide better emergency service times. According to the Citygate report, each new fire station costs $232 million a century to operate. So the expense of an additional fire station, the costs of traffic, man hours and gas, medical costs and repairs to vehicles costs us about $14 million for each year we do not have the bridge in service.
Another cost is to our high-tech sector in UTC, which is struggling with all the unnecessary traffic. If you listen to a high-tech entrepreneur or businessperson, they will tell you good roads are good for business.
At the other end of the age spectrum, the Friends Of Rose Canyon take our children on tours of the canyon and tell them the bridge will destroy the canyon forever, will be an environmental disaster, while FORC, simultaneously, ignores the Climate Action Plan.
The only environmental disaster is the 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide that is being pumped into the atmosphere each year as a direct result of not building the bridge.
The only properties that will be affected are those immediately adjacent to the bridge. These homeowners bought their homes at a lower cost because of the upcoming bridge. Their lobbying against the bridge is a way to increase their home value at the expense of everyone else in the city.
Houses with oversized lots on Regents Road will be able to sell off unused portions of their lot if Regents Road becomes two lanes; this could bring these homeowners a half-million dollars or more. Every election cycle, candidates who promise to defeat the bridge line up to collect donations.
The The University Community Planning Group is charged with representing community needs and making recommendations to City Council. The majority of the community wants the bridge built, but they are excluded from UCPG board positions, so the word “Community” in UCPG represents a minority of residents only.
You will not get a UCPG board seat if you want the bridge built, period.
I was at the March UCPG elections. In my opinion, seniors who live within three-quarters to a half-mile from the proposed bridge were brought in to vote against candidates who support building the bridge. They had false fears that the bridge would drop their home values by $100,000-200,000, bring crime and overwhelm their streets with traffic.
What they end up voting for is longer travel times from their house to a hospital. In west University City, the ambulance must loop around on the interstate or go all the way to Genesee. These seniors vote against their own mortality to benefit a few dozen homeowners.
All three UCPG voting areas have one thing in common — all three areas intersect at the Regents Road Bridge site. The overwhelming majority of residential members on the board live near the proposed bridge.
If it were true that property values for houses a quarter- or half-mile from the bridge would drop $100,000 or $200,000, then the majority of the board should recuse themselves from voting on any bridge decision. At that point, they would not have a quorum.
To get around this, UCPG makes the bridge purely an environmental issue while simultaneously ignoring the unnecessary carbon dioxide generated and the city’s Climate Action Plan.
Let’s look at who is making the decisions. A judge ruled in 2007 that the bridge EIR was defective and needed to be resubmitted. That’s one person. In 2010, one council person, in a subcommittee, made the deciding vote on tabling the EIR, so the bridge remains in stasis.
The last thing the UCPG and the Friends of Rose Canyon want is a city ballot issue to defeat the bridge because that would involve all the voters and surveys show overwhelming support for building the Regents Road Bridge.
Louis Rodolico is a San Diego City Council candidate in District 1.