San Diego, CA
In 2007 Jerry Sanders, then-mayor of San Diego, put out his proposal to give the private sector control of public services, including water and sewer services.
This announcement came shortly after San Diego voters approved Proposition C, authorizing a type of privatization known as Managed Competition. Mayor
Sanders touted managed competition as the solution to San Diego’s pension and fiscal problems.
Sanders ignored the success of the San Diego Water and Metropolitan Wastewater Department’s Bid-to-Goal program, in which a ‘mock’ bid from a private contractor was used as a benchmark for city workers to do the same work for less money. Through the Bid-to-Goal program, city workers saved San Diego taxpayers millions of dollars on wastewater treatment and reduced the number of sewage spills.
In early October 2009, the city of San Diego released a five-year financial report that projected the largest budget deficit of in the history of the city: $179 million. San Diego City Councilmembers Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer pushed for immediate implementation of Managed Competition to help solve the city’s projected deficit.
The managed competition is underway for many city departments. Fortunately, public opposition has stopped the privatization of the Miramar landfill, and the public workers have won many of the bids, including the one for the Storm Water Department.
Food & Water Watch has responded to the mayor’s proposal and councilmembers’ push for privatization by building relationships with local organizations, citizens and elected officials to prevent the privatization of San Diego’s water. We have also given several presentations and sponsored speaking events to further educate the public about the perils of water privatization.
In July 2012, the city issued a request for proposals for “consulting services for operation optimizations for the public utilities department.” Bids were due in mid-September, but as of December, the city had not announced the selection of any winning bid. During an industry conference in November, however, Veolia Water Americas CEO Laurent Auguste mentioned San Diego as a city that was talking with his company. It remains to be seen if the city will hire Veolia as a consultant.