Feb 13, 2024 - News

Flood costs take aim at San Diego's budget

A man observes damage from the Jan. 22 San Diego flood

A passer-by checks out damage from the Jan. 22 flood. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The costs of last month's catastrophic flood are now hitting the city budget.

State of play: Damage from the floods and overtime spending from the response to it are forcing the mayor and City Council to rethink their spending priorities for the year.

Why it matters: San Diego was already facing a looming structural budget deficit that is expected to exceed $1 billion over the next five years.

What's happening: The council voted Monday to add stormwater infrastructure repairs and spending for flood recovery to the formal budget priorities it sends to the mayor.

  • Mayor Todd Gloria controls the city's budget, releasing a draft proposal in April for City Council consideration in June.
  • In a Friday memo, Gloria said council members' priorities beyond public safety, infrastructure, homelessness and housing "do not reflect the fiscal reality the city is facing."

By the numbers: The city's five-year outlook projects a $115 million deficit in the new fiscal year and that it will exceed $200 million in the following four years.

  • Gloria pegged early estimates of flood damage to public facilities at $51.1 million before accounting for unbudgeted overtime spending for city workers responding to the flood.

What they're saying: Sean Elo-Rivera, the City Council president, said flooding in southeast San Diego stemmed from structural deficits caused by the mishandling of resources.

  • "Too many communities in San Diego have been neglected and abandoned and forced to survive on their own while other neighborhoods have thrived. … Are we going to start dismantling that?" Elo-Rivera said during Monday's council meeting.

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