Boulevard Project Awaits SANDAG Grant

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LA MESA -- Now the waiting game begins.

La Mesa officials have submitted a major grant request to the San Diego Association of Governments and the outcome of that effort will determine the ultimate scale and scope of the project to rebuild La Mesa Boulevard through the La Mesa Village.

In an update on the project to be shared at Tuesday's City Council meeting, city staff outlines what they hope to be the final funding sources for the $5-million project.

According to that update, nearly $2-million of funding has been secured, including $300,000 from the Downtown Parking Fund, $991,000 from the American Recovery & Re-investment Act and $630,000 from the Transportation Development Act funds.

Funding anticipated to be available includes is $700,000 from the Downtown Parking Fund, a $2-million SANDAG Smart Growth Grant and $900,000 from the La Mesa TransNet funds.

The city staff expects the SANDAG grant to be finalized in April and estimates it would take another three months to start awarding contracts. Planners are currently in the process of meeting with merchants to discuss how the construction project will move forward while assuring continuing access to the many stores with main entrances along the boulevard. Earlier estimates had first contruction beginning by early 2014.

Still to be determined, however, is whether the council will agree to implementing the full project as designed. The council has expressed a desire in having local property owners along the avenue develop an effective funding mechanism to help defray the increased maintenance costs some elements of the new street design will require.

The result of that effort have been less than clear with the proposed Property Based Improvement District, which would fund that maintenance effort, apparently mired in local politics.

If no public/private maintenance effort is established, the city staff is planning for a scaled back reconstruction that would eliminate some of the elements that would require increased maintenance. However the staff said the project would be built so that those elements could be added later without rebuilding major portions of the project if and when funding for enhanced maintenance is found.

Supporters of the PBID effort, which would assess Village property owners to fund a maintenance, security and marketing effort, say they are continuing to gather signatures in support of the effort.

"We hope to return to the City Council soon,'' said local business owner Jim Wieboldt. "With enough signatures to get the City to sign its petition.''

Opponents of the PBID have criticized that proposal's cost and discussed other, lower-cost versions, but no concrete answer has surfaced to meet the city's request.

The City Council meets Tuesday at 6 p.m.

CLICK HERE for the official City Council meeting agenda.














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Comment by chris shea on January 22, 2013 at 2:31pm

I will be anxious to know what happens.  Now that I sit at my desk and draw and gaze out at La Mesa Blvd, I have a completely different take on what might happen. I have said before that I hoped changes in the esthetics of the boulevard would almost certainly increase the value of the property, which would be great for the property owners.  And correspondingly, if the looks are spruced up, I'm thinking more people will wander through the village and enjoy the refreshed, i.e., cared about and for downtown.

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