I had a great week-long visit to San Diego’s fifth City Council district, which hugs Interstate 15, stretching from Scripps Ranch north to the San Pasqual Valley. I spent that week getting to know the issues the district faces and at the end of it, took those concerns to Mark Kersey, the lone candidate who will become that area’s City Council representative later this year.

I drove more than 300 miles. I hit a lot of potholes. I met interesting, smart people who care about where they live.

I learned that folks in Rancho Bernardo are still concerned about the threat of wildfire in their neighborhood, which burned in 2007. I met a Scripps Ranch volunteer who worries about the state of broken storm drains in his neighborhood. And I spent time on a dairy farm in the rural San Pasqual Valley, where a couple of farmers wonder why the city has blocked off a road that emergency vehicles could use.

I also soaked in what was just a great glimpse of local neighborhoods where I’d never spent much time before. I dropped by the Bernardo Winery one day, hoping to find the Rancho Bernardo Historical Society’s building open (it had just closed). But the winery’s grounds were a stunning break from the sameness of many RB streets.

While waiting outside the Rancho Bernardo Coco’s to have a cup of coffee with someone, an older gentlemen pulled up in a golf cart armed with a guard dog (actually a small jack terrier with a mean bark). Then came the Porsche.

If you drive down the right streets in Rancho Bernardo, it’s easy to understand why residents there are still concerned about fire. A few homes haven’t been rebuilt, like this empty plot west of Interstate 15.

And just down the street is a burned-out home that’s boarded up. A still-life of sorts: A few flowers were blooming in the yard.

I left the suburbs behind one day and ventured out to the San Pasqual Valley, San Diego’s northernmost community. It’s mostly populated by farm workers and most land is owned by the city. The air smells like orange blossoms. And hats like these are evidence of a different way of life.

While out driving with Marc Lindshield, a third-generation farmer in the valley, evidence of the 2007 wildfires was still obvious there, too. One stretch of road was burned by fire. We passed a crew of inmates doing brush maintenance.

Keeping watch with us on our drive was Lindshield’s dog, Lilly, who was about as calm a dog as I’ve ever met. After we passed some plants that were leaning into the road, Lindshield told me he drives along the center line in the often-forgotten valley, “just so I don’t take my dog’s face off.”

Rob Davis is a senior reporter at Voice of San Diego. He took these photos using the Hipstamatic app in the iPhone. You can contact him directly at rob.davis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

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Rob Davis

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

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