GrokSurf's San Diego

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Archive for the ‘Land use’ Category

Lake Murray area residents work to restore park playground

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 17, 2010

These days in San Diego, one can’t avoid hearing of the city’s inability to pay for municipal services and infrastructure maintenance. “Brownouts” of fire crews, elimination of civilian employees in the police department, reductions in branch library operations, and reductions of lifeguards have been recently announced in the wake of the FY 2010 budget approved by the city council. So too, it goes for recreational facilities.

Just three old playground items remain offerering children little variety

At Lake Murray Park, located in the Navajo Community within the Mission Trails Regional Park system, a playground serving a large community of children originally built in the early 1990s has shrunk from nine pieces of play equipment to just three, because over the years the city removed aging equipment rather than repair or replace it. Residents also saw the playground deteriorate from hazards such as litter and sand contamination, while the sparse aging equipment attracted fewer users. Frustrated that the city would/could not fund any improvements, two local residents, Marilyn Olson and Tracy Dahlkamp, decided to organize a grassroots fundraising project to restore and improve the playground.

Tracy and Marilyn organized a nonprofit organization called Lake Murray Playground Project, setting a goal of raising $250,000 by 2011 to buy new equipment and perform upgrades to the playground area. The Lake Murray Kiwanis Foundation agreed to serve as the group’s fiscal sponsor. David Reed, a local landscape architect, donated his expertise for the playground redesign. With the help of others who became members of a steering committee to manage the organization, they officially launched the project last December with a fundraising event where they unveiled a proposed new playground design.

They’ve attracted funding and material support from local businesses (Windmill Farms, Keil’s Food Stores, Trails Neighborhood Eatery) and other organizations. The Union-Tribune caught wind of the project and published a story about it. So far, the city appears to be responding favorably to their idea, with Councilperson Marti Emerald publicly supporting their effort.

The Playground Project has its own website and Facebook fan page (as of this writing it boasts 310 fans).

The work by Tracy, Marilyn, and the many volunteers sets a great example by their positive, constructive response to the declining municipal services compounded by the latest city budget woes. Speaking to the initiative of these two women, Jay Wilson (Executive Director, Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation) told me “they may not know it yet, but they are this area’s next community leaders.”

Some future users of the playground


Another notable effort is under way at Ocean Beach. Recently, the city decided to cease maintenance of the fire pits at Ocean Beach and announced the intention of removing them altogether. Actually not just the fire pits in Ocean Beach but also in Mission Bay and La Jolla Shores (see OB’s Frank Gormlie (co-founder of the OB Rag) helped lead an effort to find individual sponsors to “adopt” fire pits and be responsible for their maintenance. Unfortunately, city policy may prevent them from doing so, as they’ve been told that such an effort would require a $1 million insurance policy, among other things, in order to comply with safety and legal requirements of public fire pit maintenance.


Posted in Government, Land use | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Valero seeking to enlarge San Carlos gas station at Jackson & Navajo

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 15, 2010

The gas station at the corner of Navajo Road and Jackson Drive in San Carlos may get a new look if a proposal by Valero is approved. According to John Pilch, President of the San Carlos Area Council (SCAC), Valero would demolish and remake the existing gas station with the addition of a car wash and convenience store. I asked for information about the permit request from the San Diego Development Services Department but they have not responded; however, the proposal is on the agenda for the next SCAC meeting April 7 at 7pm in the San Carlos Branch Library.

Mar 17: The station manager informed me that it is not Valero’s proposal, but rather the property owner who has a lease with Valero who wishes to expand. He said the owner began the process about one year ago and that “the city keeps coming up with new objections” to the plan.

The current Valero corner gas station (click to enlarge)

Valero has a corner store investors webpage:


Posted in Commerce, Land use | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

San Vicente Dam Raise Project tour

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 11, 2010

As promised, here are some new photos and video from the San Vicente Dam Raise Project. I didn’t hear a single joke from staffers about what kind of salary increase (raise) they would like, either.

As reported earlier, excavation of the foundation and the hillsides adjacent to the dam, removal of concrete from the top and the face of the dam, and other work to prepare for raising the height of the dam by 117 feet is expected to be completed this summer. Completion of the entire project has been pushed back from the original estimate which was late 2012, with work now expected to be complete in mid-2014. All that prep work on the face of the dam is to make a good bonding surface for the new concrete that will be added.

For complete information, see the official project website:

(click images to enlarge)

View on approach, cut in hill next to dam hints at the new height Tank at hilltop is for surge control associated with the Second Aqueduct pipeline
Overall scene from the viewing area Water blasting the dam’s face
Construction detail Work at the top


(you can get slightly better video quality by selecting the YouTube 480p button at bottom once it starts playing)

Posted in Environment, Land use, Videos, Water | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Toxic cleanup near Patrick Henry High School will enter a new phase; end is in sight

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 8, 2010

Del Cerro/San Carlos

The long holding pattern on cleanup of underground contamination discovered below leaky gasoline tanks removed after closing the Union 76 gas station at the corner of Navajo Road and Park Ridge Blvd. in 2002 is showing signs of change. At the time of discovery, soil samples taken from the pit where the storage tanks had been buried for 15 years revealed contamination levels 17 times higher than safety standards allow, according to this March 2009 San Diego Union-Tribune report.

The wells that were drilled into the street to vent and treat extracted fumes and liquid at the small decontamination unit on the station site are still being worked, and part of the athletic field at Patrick Henry High School remains closed, but it now appears progress is being made toward a final solution.

Bernie Rhinerson, Chief District Relations Officer for the San Diego Unified School District, says that the district is getting close to a final legal settlement with Conoco Phillips to pay for the construction cost of the appropriate underground drainage/mitigation system for the field. The current schedule is for the construction contract to be awarded in January 2011 and construction would take 4-6 months. After that there would have to be an establishment period for new turf and the estimate is that the field might be ready for use after September 2011 at the earliest.

Corner station

Wells in roadway

Decontamination equipment on station lot

Looking towards closed area at Patrick Henry High School

Corner of field below gas station

Warning sign


Posted in Environment, Land use | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Adobe Falls open space views

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 6, 2010

Fresh pictures from the area. My digital camera (Nikon D5000) has 720p video, but only manual controls and even on a tripod with vibration control turned on it is impossible to get smooth pans and zooms, so it looks pretty amateurish, but overall some nice shots anyway. Enjoy.

Most of the still photos in the video also in this Flickr slideshow.

March 19, 2010: Back in November, I reported that the Fire Department told me the fire at Adobe Falls was probably caused by transients. The video also has a caption to that effect. Today, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a man was charged with arson in the case. Click here for the full story.

Posted in Adobe Falls, Environment, Land use, Videos, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Judge signs final decision; SDSU expansion may proceed along Alvarado Creek and Del Cerro

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 2, 2010

The local news media dropped its coverage of this in 2007, perhaps thinking it was over then, but now it’s really done. San Diego State University has a green light to proceed with its strongly contested Master Plan which envisions a 120-room hotel near Alvarado Hospital and the development of a large complex of residential housing for SDSU faculty and staff in the open space area at scenic Adobe Falls on Alvarado Creek near Del Cerro.

The final decision on the long-standing lawsuits challenging SDSU’s 2007 Revised Master Plan Environmental Impact Report was made by Judge Thomas P. Nugent. He signed the final decision on Feb 11, 2010, finding the revised EIR valid.

Check the Ongoing Topics page for future developments]

The lawsuits had been filed by Del Cerro Action Council, the City of San Diego, and others after the revised EIR was issued in 2007, consolidated into a single case, and argued since then until a proposed decision was issued on January 13, 2010. The most disputed issues were SDSU’s (CSU’s) responsibility for paying for mitigation of the environmental impacts (there’s apparently little obligation), and whether the Navajo community plan had been taken into account (it had, but doesn’t matter). Following the proposed decision, objections to it were made and heard, and now this final decision is the last word on the case. Background information is documented on this blog’s Ongoing Topics page. I won’t attempt to relate the variety of other details covered in the lawsuits, but I obtained a copy of the judge’s decision and reproduced it below.

Now that the Adobe Falls project appears ready to proceed, one open question regards the number of units to be built. Presently there is only one road providing access to the site (via Del Cerro Blvd.). If no alternate access can be provided to the site, a maximum of 172 homes will be developed. If an additional alternate access can be provided, up to 348 homes could be developed on the site. The only viable alternate access would be through property owned by the Smoke Tree Adobe Falls Homeowners Association which has vehemently opposed the new development.

Going forward, my interest is in understanding the fate of the Adobe Falls open space area and the city’s only year-round cascading waterfall. I will report new developments as I learn about them.

[Update Mar 4: In response to my question whether an appeal will be filed, Gina Coburn, Communications Director for the San Diego City Attorney’s office wrote me: “Given the pendency of litigation, we are limited by what we will comment on. We will point out, however, that the City and Redevelopment Agency will appeal the Court’s denial of our writ. The lawsuit only addressed SDSU’s Campus Master Plan Expansion, and did not address any other separate redevelopment projects in the area.” She added that her office will not comment on specifics of the appeal and that it cannot comment on what any other parties in the lawsuit might do]

Posted in Adobe Falls, Environment, Land use, Water | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

What a great idea for a riverwalk

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 23, 2010

From L.A. Creek Freak comes this great find, Poetry meets River Bike Path in Portugal.


Posted in Arts, Land use, Water | Leave a Comment »

City Council to vote on recycled water pipeline

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 21, 2010

North City Water Reclamation Plant

[Feb 24 update: The resolution was approved as part of a package of consent items during the meeting, which usually means no major objections were anticipated]

The San Diego City Council will vote on Tuesday whether to adopt a resolution approving the plans and specifications for the Carmel Valley Recycled Water Pipeline Construction Project and to authorize advertising for bids on a construction contract. Up to $4,730,000 would be approved to pay for the project (see City Council Docket Item 100).

The pipeline will consist of approximately 10,000 linear feet of 8-inch to 12-inch diameter pipeline to provide an extension to serve recycled water from the North City Water Reclamation Plant to the Meadows Del Mar Golf Course, Palacio Del Mar Home Owners Association and future customers in the western portion of Carmel Valley.

The project is to assist the City in carrying out Phase II of the 2000 Water Reclamation Master Plan which states the City will attempt to achieve the beneficial use of 50% of treated wastewater by the year 2010. That goal was related to the City’s EPA waiver from having to provide secondary treatment at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, the latest which was just renewed last October. That waiver committed San Diego to treat 45 MGD of wastewater by 2010 (note there’s a difference between ‘treated’ and ‘used’).

According to the 2005 Recycled Water Master Plan Update, the goal was to reuse at least 12 million gallons per day of water from the North City Water Reclamation Plant (the plant treats about 22.5 MGD, with the excess sent to Point Loma for disposal at sea). At the time of the 2005 update, the actual amount reused amounted to only 6 MGD. I haven’t learned what the current usage for 2010 is, but according to the 2005 Update, if implemented as described, the phased system expansions outlined in the reclamation plan would allow the City to meet the 12 MGD water reuse goal by 2010. Toward that end, the proposed pipeline project is estimated to supply approximately 300 acre feet of recycled water per year according to the city council docket (1 acre foot = 325851 gallons).

Supporting documentation for the Council agenda item: Inviting Bids for Carmel Valley Recycled Water Pipeline Construction Project (Carmel Valley Community Area. District 1.)

Posted in Environment, Land use, Water | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

San Vicente Dam first phase construction 50% complete

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 18, 2010

According to a construction update I received from the San Diego County Water Authority, excavation of the foundation on the hillsides adjacent to the dam, removal of concrete from the top and the face of the dam, and other work to prepare for raising the height of the dam 117 feet is over half completed and is expected to be completed this summer. However, completion of the entire project has been pushed back from the original estimate which was late 2012. Work is now expected to be complete in mid-2014.

P.S., I’ll be taking a tour of the project in early March and will take plenty of pictures for a future report.

Here’s a copy of the update (reprinted with permission). Complete background information about the San Vicente project can be found at SDCWA’s San Vicente Project website.

Posted in Environment, Land use, Water | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

How to poison relations between Imperial Valley and San Diego

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 14, 2010

While the decision to invalidate the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) simmers, an editorial in the Imperial Valley Press Online serves as a good reminder that even in San Diego (!) there are those who view California water resources selfishly and cynically (the QSA contains an agreement for water transfers from Imperial Valley to San Diego). The editorial observes:

…the North County Times in San Diego County recently wrote an editorial that was stunning in its lack of understanding of the dangers of a dried-up Salton Sea and its lack of interest in any region — or its people — other than its own. Of the judge’s ruling and a possible appeal, the paper said:

“Since we believe a higher and better use is to move the water conservation in the Valley (the essence of the deal) to the thirsty parts of San Diego County, we hope the appeal succeeds, the judge is overturned and the Salton Sea is ultimately left to dry up.”

I think San Diegans should be more appreciative that the people of Imperial Valley have made sacrifices to send much-needed water our way. At best, the North County Times editorial was thoughtless. If our attitude is ‘let them breathe dust’ they might as well have the stance ‘let them drink seawater!’ (the Poseidon plant notwithstanding).

Click here to read the entire opinion from Imperial Valley Press

Click here to read the offending North County Times opinion. To their credit, they printed a rebuttal to their editorial.

Feb 15: Interesting timing–the KPBS “These Days” program will discuss the QSA today, apparently from the same angle that I used here. They wrote “Not only has the story been under-reported … but calls to let the Salton Sea dry up are really provoking anger. An audio recording of the broadcast will be posted on their website.

Mar 17: S.D. is not against I.V. / editorial by Tom Wornham, Chairman, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Secretary, Board of Directors, San Diego County Water Authority, published in the Imperial Valley Press.

Posted in Environment, Imperial Irrigation District, Land use, Politics, Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), Salton Sea, Water | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »