I’m embedded in City Council District 1 this week, trying to learn what its residents care about before the upcoming election. I’m meeting with as many residents as possible and then interviewing the four candidates vying to represent them.
Below, I’ve compiled five more stories shared by some of the district’s residents. If you live in the district (see this map to check), please add your voice in the comments section at the bottom. And click here for my previous District 1 coverage.
Candice Bowman’s Suburb
A big development battle in Carmel Valley is nearing a critical juncture. Kilroy Realty wants to build a “main street” with shops, apartments and public space in the middle of the neighborhood. Candice Bowman and other residents oppose it.
|Rendering courtesy of Kilroy Realty|
Bowman said her biggest concern is traffic. She fears a new shopping arena would attract more cars into her quiet, suburban neighborhood. “Traffic is just increasing up here at a frightful rate,” she said.
Residents and the developer are now reviewing the city’s first evaluation of the proposal’s impacts. The document is hundreds of pages, packed with detailed summaries, charts and statistics.
But a broader debate in the community focuses on whether the proposal fits Carmel Valley’s character. Residents seem torn between a vision of a more urban environment like University City to the south and more suburban or rural neighborhoods to the north.
Bowman said she moved to Carmel Valley for the latter and doesn’t want to see it change.
Pia Mantovani’s Library
I met Pia Mantovani, a mother of two and community volunteer, at a Starbucks in University City to talk about the controversial Regents Road Bridge. She supports building the bridge, saying it would relieve congestion and improve public safety.
Asked about her other priorities for public services, Mantovani pointed to the neighborhood’s libraries and recreational centers. “It seems like every budget year we’re fighting to keep these things open,” she said. “Everybody’s fighting for very precious space.”
In University City, she said, the facilities provide some of the only public meeting spaces. Closing them would shut down civic discussion.
With great pride, Mantovani and a few other residents told me they defeated a proposal to close south University City’s library in 2008. They picketed City Hall and pressured the council to reject the idea.
Though the Regents Road Bridge still divides the community, residents said keeping the library open was one of the greatest achievements they’ve had working together.
Hugh Davies’ Pool
Hugh Davies, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, shares many of the same concerns as other District 1 residents. He wants smoother streets, more funding for the arts and better public transit.
But then he mentioned one of La Jolla’s most hot-button issues: the Children’s Pool. For years, residents and environmental advocates have debated whether the beach should be reserved for seals, swimmers or both.
|File photo by Sam Hodgson|
Davies said the seals should leave. “All three of my kids learned to swim in the Children’s Pool,” he said. “I find it deeply demoralizing that these seals, who didn’t build that wall, have moved into the beach.”
But, Davies added, “It’s not a life or death issue.”
Tom Ferrier’s Storm Pipe
Tom Ferrier opened a file on his home computer called “landslide” and asked which documents I wanted to see. “Oh, just the ones you got from the city and the letters you sent to the mayor and Sherri Lightner,” I replied.
Nearly two years ago, Ferrier asked the city to repair a storm pipe near his University City home. The pipe collects rain water from the street and ejects it into the hillside of Rose Canyon just beyond his property line.
|Photo by Keegan Kyle|
|Ferrier’s home viewed from the bottom of the canyon. The pipe comes out near the dark green tree on the left side of the photo.|
Over decades, runoff from the pipe has gradually eroded the hillside and created a canyon within a canyon. Ferrier said its walls of dirt are now 20 to 30 feet high, and have made the hillside less stable.
Photo by Keegan Kyle
Erosion near the bottom of the canyon
“The whole thing could take out half or a whole street,” Ferrier said. “It’s not a question of if it’s going to happen. It’s just a question of when.”
City engineers inspected the site two years ago and told Ferrier the area showed “no indications of gross instability.” But they also said the drain system needed repair and would be placed onto a list of unfunded needs. The pipe would compete for funding with other projects each year.
Ferrier wrote letters to Mayor Jerry Sanders and his council representative, Sherri Lightner, urging them to fund the repair. But since then, nothing has happened. Each time it rains, another piece of Rose Canyon erodes behind his home.
“We expected at least something would come of it,” he said. “I don’t know who I’m going to vote for. I just know who I’m not going to vote for.”
A Bike Club’s Pothole
The four candidates vying to represent District 1 attended their first and only scheduled forum Wednesday night. I’ll have more on the forum later today, but one man described an issue that I’ve heard from lots of residents this week.
He told the story of a young father who was riding with a bicycle club in the area, hit a pothole and was killed by the crash. “That bicycle club says the worst potholes from Coronado to Oceanside are in La Jolla,” he said.
The man left the forum before I could grab his name, but Candice Bowman shared a similar story with me. She rides with a bicycle club around Carmel Valley and said she had a friend who hit a pothole and ended up in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
“He didn’t see it and just hit bottom,” she said. “It was several inches deep.”
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