There it was.

Oozing from the sand, fizzing up from nowhere, cutting a line through the beach and draining into San Diego Bay. It looked as if Kellogg Beach in La Playa had decided to boil water: A bubbly mess that incongruously emerged from what should’ve been solid ground.

The quicksand-like phenomenon that we described last week had come to life. After a rainy rescue there some two years ago, a fence was erected around the troublesome spot. But as we noted, it’s since disappeared.

What was the mess? Where was it coming from? Good questions, both. But the answers are still cloudy, a mystery likely borne of the city’s storm water infrastructure.

As Saturday’s rain picked up, the bubbly mess emerged — in somewhat less dramatic fashion than I anticipated. It was the kind of phenomenon that cries out to be poked with a stick. (But not stepped in.)

What’s clear from visiting the site at the base of McCall Street, one the city’s storm water department has promised to investigate, is that it’s likely connected to a large drain about 30 feet away that collects storm water. Rain washed into the drain, which has no visible outfall.

Kipland Howard, a La Playa resident, took me to the spot last week. During a rain storm a couple of years ago, Howard told me, he’d had to rescue a woman from a hole that emerged there. She’d been trapped with an infant in her arms.

On Saturday, no one was in immediate danger, save perhaps for a few seagulls seeking refuge from the blustery day. But the subterranean problem is real.

And still mysterious.

Please contact Rob Davis directly at or 619.325.0529 and follow him on Twitter:

Rob Davis was formerly a senior reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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