UC Community Improvements: how you can help make it happen

Courtesy of Gregory R. Zinser, President, Improve UC:

Infrastructure improvements and new projects in University City (UC), as in all other San Diego communities, are funded primarily as part of the City’s annual budget process, more specifically, the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) component.

Your opportunity to make a difference is during the community input part of that process as outlined in San Diego City Council Policy 000-32. This policy requires each Community Planning Group to start the process of soliciting community input and building consensus in July of each year and they are also required to hold two or more public hearings to gain community input before submitting recommendations to the City Planning Department by October 1 st .

The policy further states that:

  • The University Community Planning Group (UCPG), along with all others in the City of San Diego, provides recommendations in an advisory capacity,
  • Community members or organizations have the right to directly contact the Mayor’s Office or the City Council, and
  • The Mayor’s Office and the City Council have the ability to directly seek public input.

We encourage all interested members of the UC community to provide input on CIP projects, both during the City’s annual budget process and when our North and South UC Public Facilities Financing Plans (PFFP) are updated. You can make a difference by:

  • Contacting your City Council Member sandiego.gov/citycouncil;
  • Attending meetings or contacting representatives of the UCPG (which represents both North and South UC), the Standley Park Recreation Council, the University City Community Association (UCCA), Improve UC and other groups soliciting community input; and
  • Participating in the formalized process to obtain public input on community infrastructure needs and priorities as outlined in City Council Policy 000-32.

City Budget Process Summary

The CIP is part of the City’s annual budget process and is a multi-year forecast of capital needs which includes new construction projects and planned improvements of existing facilities. Implementation of CIP projects is based on the City’s adopted General Plan and applicable community plans.

The CIP budget process begins on July 1 st (one year prior to the effective date of the new budget) when the asset-owning departments, including Parks & Recreation, are asked to identify and prioritize their capital needs.

As a general rule, projects included in the CIP must be in conformance with the General Plan and consistent with the related Community Plan. The City’s Community Plans are components of the City’s General Plan and identify public infrastructure needed to serve the community based on the community’s vision and policies in the City’s General Plan.

This particular infrastructure is included in the approved development impact fee (DIF) plan. The City currently prepares two types of DIF plans, each representative of a different impact fee methodology: Public Facilities Financing Plan (PFFP) and Impact Fee Study (IFS).

A DIF plan, commonly referred to as a “financing plan”, is the implementation document for the Community Plan and identifies and prioritizes public facilities infrastructure projects, including police, fire, library, park & recreation, and transportation facilities. The DIF plan also identifies estimated costs for these projects and existing and potential funding sources.

Although UC currently has only one Community Plan, there are separate financing plans for North and South UC.  Financing plans are typically updated every 3-5 years and the entire process occurs in 4 phases and takes about 15 months. However, the North UC PFFP update is currently on hold pending the resolution of the litigation that has been filed relating to the City Council’s decision this past December to remove the Regents Road bridge from the UC Community Plan.

An update of the South UC Public Facilities Summary and Development Impact Fee Schedule has not been scheduled, and will not take place until the UC Community Plan is updated. Latest estimates are that it will be 3-4 years before the UC Community Plan update is completed. The City Planning Department plans to study the possibility of merging the North and South UC financing plans, but that will take place only upon completion of the UC Community Plan Update, as part of the accompanying analysis and update of the North and South UC PFFPs.

Projects included in the PFFPs are partially funded through DIFs or Facilities Benefits Assessments (FBAs) which are fees assessed on developers to mitigate the impact of new development.

Consistent with the General Plan, communities at or near build-out, such as South UC, collect DIF fees on infill or revitalization projects. DIF generally provides less than 10% of the funding needed for identified public facilities. DIF is collected upon building permit issuance, and can be used to fund community police, fire, library, park and recreation, and transportation facilities. While some capital improvement projects may be funded from the General Fund and other sources, the type of community benefit projects we have been discussing in South UC for many years such as median upgrades, Marcy Park, Imagine UC 2020 and other park improvements, etc. are primarily funded through DIF.

South UC currently holds $125,000 of DIF to be used to fund projects included in the South UC PFFP and programmed in the City of San Diego CIP. Most of this balance is already appropriated to specific projects.

Communities that are relatively early in their planned development (such as North UC in the early 1980’s) have an FBA that historically provided up to 100% of funds for public facilities projects identified in the community’s PFFP. North UC currently holds a combination of DIF and FBA funds totaling about $18 million to be used to fund projects included in the North UC PFFP and programmed in the City of San Diego CIP. Some of this balance is already appropriated to specific projects.

It should be noted that current DIF and FBA balances change regularly as new revenues come in, and as available funds are appropriated to projects.

Contact Gregory R. Zinser, President, Improve UC at greg@improveuc.org.

For more information, visit http://improveuc.org/

Additional resources, courtesy of Marco Camacho, Financial & Administrative Services Manager, City of San Diego Planning Department, include:

A Citizen’s Guide to Infrastructure; review Table of Contents for:

  • Identifying Projects for the CIP Budget
  • Identifying Funding and Prioritization Projects
  • Budgeting for the CIP


Adopted Fiscal Year 2017 Budget – Volume I: Review Budget Process and Capital Improvements Program sections.

Adopted Fiscal Year 2017 Budget – Volume III: Capital Improvements Program; Review Profile of the City of San Diego’s CIP.

Review Community Planning

Planning Department – Facilities Financing FAQ page

Public Works Department – Capital Improvements Program (CIP)


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Review article guidelines at  http://www.universitycitynews.org/ucca-newsletter-archives/

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