Five Chronic Problems With San Diego Streets, Pipes and Sidewalks

Five Chronic Problems With San Diego Streets, Pipes and Sidewalks

Photo by Sam Hodgson

The city has pledged to begin construction of a sidewalk on a harrowing stretch near San Ysidro High School in early 2014.

The city of San Diego’s streets, storm drains, buildings and pipes break faster than can be fixed. Some of them break again, again and again.

Here are five chronic infrastructure problems that festered in 2013 and where the city’s at in fixing them.

Allied Gardens Zombie Sinkholes

Photo courtesy of Kathy Wiskur

Photo courtesy of Kathy Wiskur

For more than three years, pieces of Princess View Drive in Allied Gardens have fallen into the earth.

“A bazillion,” city transportation spokesman Bill Harris said of the amount of the road’s sinkholes. “That’s with a ‘b’ and you can quote me.”

Every time one emerged, the city sent out repair crews. But they never fixed the broken corrugated metal pipe under the road. And the sinkholes would come back.

Kathy Wiskur, who lives adjacent to Princess View Drive, said residents feared falling into the holes. One of them grew from eight inches across to three feet within a few hours, she said.

“I barely missed it pulling into the street,” Wiskur said.

A replacement of the broken pipe is scheduled to begin in January, Harris said.

The Busted Main Water Main

Few streets in San Diego are more vital than North Harbor Drive – the city’s link to the bay and the airport.

Yet three times in the last year, water pipes along the road have burst. Most recently, a break during Thanskgiving week opened up a 20-foot by 40-foot sinkhole and police closed down part of the road for more than 12 hours.

The water main is currently being replaced and is scheduled to be done by May, a water department spokesman said.

Overgrown Tree Leaves Leave Lights Out

Photo courtesy of Maritza Maksimow

Photo courtesy of Maritza Maksimow

Residents in City Heights and other Mid-City neighborhoods have complained about a lack of street lights.

In Teralta Park in City Heights, lights are there but so are overgrown tree leaves.

“It makes it so you can’t see exactly what’s lingering in the darkness,” said Maritza Maksimow, an outreach manager with the City Heights Community Development Corporation nonprofit.

The trees were trimmed last January, and park volunteers sent a letter to the city in August to ask for a more frequent schedule so the park could be better used at night.

That hasn’t happened, but a regularly scheduled tree trim is coming soon, Harris said. It should be done before the end of the year.

The Hole in One La Jolla Water Pipe

On the outskirts of the La Jolla Country Club, a water pipe along Country Club Drive has broken five times in the past three years. The most recent break caused $400,000 in damage to a home, a spokeswoman for City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said.

Harris said the city’s to blame for part of the problem, but also said a property along the road shares some responsibility, too.

“They didn’t shore up their hillside property,” he said.

An emergency replacement of 1,500 feet of water pipe along the street is under way, and expected to be done in early January.

The Phantom San Ysidro Sidewalk

When we last left the sidewalk-less half-mile stretch of road outside San Ysidro High School – the one that forces students to navigate a skinny dirt path next to a steep canyon – the city had pledged to begin construction in early 2014.

That’s still the case, Harris said.

“The money,” he said, “will be in the bank.”

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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4 comments
Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw

Liam has identified our city's most pervasive problem, fixing our infrastructure and keeping it in shape so we don't just drown in emergency repairs. In today's UT the lead headline claims cities around the county are contemplating wholesale employee raises because of alleged windfall receipts. I can't believe they are in much better shape than San Diego. Such talk is simply crazy, and just because it's been a long time since many of them had across-the-board increases, they ought to ask their neighbors who work in the private sector how they feel about this.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

Liam has identified our city's most pervasive problem, fixing our infrastructure and keeping it in shape so we don't just drown in emergency repairs. In today's UT the lead headline claims cities around the county are contemplating wholesale employee raises because of alleged windfall receipts. I can't believe they are in much better shape than San Diego. Such talk is simply crazy, and just because it's been a long time since many of them had across-the-board increases, they ought to ask their neighbors who work in the private sector how they feel about this.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin

Bill. Add to that planned increases to personnel. General fund budgets have been manuvered to be just about wages and benefits with little left for basic repairs and maintenance.
Those will be extra as in bonds.
Meanwhile while wall street celebrates their bailout and portfolios are flush we are back to "may the good times never end".
Rinse and repeat.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Bill. Add to that planned increases to personnel. General fund budgets have been manuvered to be just about wages and benefits with little left for basic repairs and maintenance.
Those will be extra as in bonds.
Meanwhile while wall street celebrates their bailout and portfolios are flush we are back to "may the good times never end".
Rinse and repeat.