Chollas Creek, as anyone who’s ever peered into it would know, can be an unsightly thing to behold. The watershed that carries storm water from Lemon Grove and La Mesa to San Diego Harbor is one of San Diego’s most polluted waterways.

Furniture and appliances, clothing and trash, and all types of unwanted detritus are illegally dumped into the creek daily. After strong rains, the harbor-bound flow can look like debris soup.

The reason is simple, community members say: People know they can get away with dumping because residents of the largely low-income neighborhoods the creek traverses are unlikely to report it.

The task of addressing that problem has been painstaking for the creek’s advocates. Its 32 miles are largely ignored by residents who live along it, and it’s missing signage or sturdy fencing along extended stretches.

But slow progress is being made, as evidenced by a new 1,870-foot wooden fence along a stretch of the creek in southeastern San Diego’s Southcrest neighborhood.

Groundwork San Diego, the nonprofit whose work we’ve profiled before, recently completed installing the fence, designed in part to prevent dumpers from pulling pickup trucks right up to the creek’s edge and, heave-ho! It will also make the creek more attractive and visible to residents and people using the adjacent park, the nonprofit said.

It’s a small step toward the nonprofit’s long term goal of turning all 32 miles of Chollas Creek into a park complete with riverside trails.

“The new fencing certainly beautifies the area, and more importantly, links communities to one another and to nature,” said Leslie Reynolds, Groundwork’s executive director.

Please contact Adrian Florido directly at or at 619.325.0528 and follow him on Twitter:

Adrian Florido is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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