Local sites among updated Capital Improvement Needs Assessment Program projects

Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) land acquisition, Vallecitos Park playground improvements, San Luis Rey River Park land acquisition and improvements, and Don Dussault Park improvements are among projects listed in the county’s updated Capital Improvement Needs Assessment Program.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 March 21 to approve the five-year needs assessment provided by the county’s Department of General Services, and although the approval of the needs assessment itself did not include funding for the projects on the list the supervisors also directed county chief administrative officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to determine timing and funding mechanisms to implement the individual projects.

“I’m proud the county has chosen to be fiscally conservative and live within our budget. Because we are fiscally strong, we are able to address county facilities needs and improvements to better serve the public,” said Supervisor Bill Horn.

The plan includes $346 million of fully-funded projects including $56 million of recently-completed projects. The 77 partially-funded and unfunded projects have an estimated cost of $1.1 billion.

The updated needs assessment covers facilities projects slated for capital improvement between 2017 and 2022. The capital planning process which includes the Capital Improvement Needs Assessment Program focuses on facilities, so road projects are not included on the capital improvements list.

A Facilities Planning Board prioritizes projects based on criteria including benefits and linkage to the county’s strategic plan and ranks projects. Additional projects which have been identified but which require further analysis to define their scope will be brought to the Board of Supervisors in the future for addition onto the Capital Improvement Needs Assessment Program list.

Among the highest-ranked capital needs are $95,000,000 for a new juvenile justice campus (including demolition and renovation of existing buildings), $1,000,000 to improve the Palomar Mountain fire station, and $49,000,000 to replace two County Operations Center buildings with a new Sheriff’s Technology Center facility.

The MSCP land acquisition ranks 10th among the projects (last year only projects with an estimated cost of at least $10 million were ranked, and the MSCP was ranked third). The county has already purchased more than 19,400 acres for the MSCP and anticipates the acquisition of nearly 12,500 additional acres. The estimated cost to acquire that remaining amount is $294 million and $178,406,043 of that has already been funded.

The 12th-ranked project is the replacement of playground equipment at six county parks including Vallecitos Park. None of the estimated $2,045,000 cost is currently funded.

A bicycle skills course at an undetermined North County location ranks 29th. The environmental analysis, permitting, design, and construction has an estimated cost of $500,000.  The course would include a jump track, progressive jumps, and other skills elements.

The San Luis Rey River Park ranked 10th among major projects on the 2016 list and now ranks 48th overall. The needs assessment plan addresses land acquisition and development of one of the two planned active recreation sites.

The river park boundaries are yet to be determined and land will be acquired only from willing sellers, so the total acquisition cost estimate may require adjustment. The river park will cover approximately 1,600 acres and the linear park will stretch for approximately nine miles.

The county has already acquired 668 acres, and approximately 700 acres will be transferred to county ownership as part of the California Department of Transportation mitigation requirements for the widening of State Route 76.

The estimated cost for the acquisition of an additional 250 acres, including 40 to 60 acres for two active recreation sites, and the development of one of those active recreation sites is $39,189,843 including $14,189,844 which has been funded. The total estimated development cost of the river park is $50 million.

The future San Luis Rey River Park will include open space areas including trails, staging areas, and habitat preservation. Since those open space areas are for the most part within the draft MSCP boundaries, the MSCP funding will be available to purchase open space land within the river park.

The river park plans also include active recreation fields such as ball fields, play areas, and picnic facilities; the active recreation land would not be eligible for MSCP funding.

Improvements to Don Dussault Park were added to the list in 2014, and the uncompleted work now ranks 51st. The park is a 3/4-acre recreational facility off of Alturas Road near the intersection of Aviation Road. The master plan for the park has a current cost estimate of $615,000 for the planned improvements including $312,368 of already-committed funding.

Previous funding of $330,000 allowed for the completion of the first phase of improvements during fall 2014. The second phase, which is currently in the planning stages, will include a junior play structure, picnic areas, exercise equipment, paths, landscaping, and irrigation.

The 66th-ranked project would spend approximately $500,000 to convert the Wilderness Gardens parking lot from impermeable to permeable pavement, which would reduce runoff into the San Luis Rey River and its tributaries.  No funding is currently budgeted for that improvement in Pala.

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