By Jim Miller
“There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican pothole.”
Remember that pat line that Kevin Faulconer used ad nauseam during the mayor’s race? Well out here in the real world after the election, neither variety of potholes is getting fixed very quickly, and Faulconer’s fine words about efficiency and commitment to infrastructure are long forgotten once the press conferences are over.
A case in point is my Golden Hill neighborhood, where residents recently posted angry signs before they cleared several cone-blocked streets and dozens of “no parking” signs on their own after four months and counting of inaction in the wake of a Faulconer press conference where he promised big things.
As the San Diego Reader reported back in April:
Faulconer said the city has been rightfully criticized in the past for poorly coordinating infrastructure projects. For instance, the city would pave a street and then tear it up a couple months later for a sewer or water project. This project would be different, he said. The area would soon be due for a water-main replacement, so that project was consolidated with the other planned improvements.
As I write this in late August, nothing has been delivered for over four months but more potholes, bad water pressure, occasional geysers erupting from broken above-ground pipes, constant foul-ups, car accidents caused by obstructed views, perpetually unfinished sidewalks complete with dangerous uncovered holes, and a Waiting for Godot action plan.
It is true that a few days before the cones and signs were relocated by my neighborhood’s crew of soft vigilantes in mid-July, Monica Munoz, the senior Public Information Officer for Public Works happened to be strolling by my house where she came upon my wife who she informed that “things were getting taken care of” and we “would see big changes soon.”
When my wife asked why a giant pile of dirt and heavy equipment had been abandoned in the middle of our street for months on end with no action, Munoz shared that the city had had trouble getting in contact with the job supervisor from the company that had been hired to do the work because he was “on vacation.” It must have been a pretty long trip because that pile of garbage sat untouched in the middle of the street for two months before they sent somebody out to clean it up.
It’s now been another month at least since Munoz’s promise of “big changes,” and the only new development we’ve seen is a door-hanger delivered last week informing us that they would soon be resuming work and would tow our cars if we didn’t move them promptly upon warning.
So far the “No Parking” signs haven’t materialized, but I’m sure they’ll come and rip our street up again soon and force us along with our neighbors to walk several blocks through a construction zone every time we need to bring in groceries or laundry. The local businesses have also certainly enjoyed having their entrances blocked and “beautified” by the endless construction.
That joy combined with waking up first thing in the morning to jackhammers and heavy equipment and cleaning up after the garbage the construction workers toss in our yards will surely improve our quality of life this fall. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the last five months of adventures in infrastructure “improvements,” but I think they may soon have to put up a sign over 25th Street that reads, “Golden Hill: Where the Fun Never Stops.”
The most amusing part of this comedy of errors is that the latest door-hanger promised that the water main replacements and street resurfacing would be done by “mid-2014.” Now while it is true that I teach English rather than math, I’m pretty sure that mid-year would have been June, but perhaps my ideological bias against the Faulconer administration is clouding my view of the matter.
Not to worry though: Munoz did assure my wife that, once everything was done, it would be “beautiful.” Indeed, they’ve got nowhere to go but up on this one.
Call me crazy, but something tells me that if the city displayed this level of stunning incompetence, horrendous communication, infrastructural Whack-A-Mole, and WTF urban planning in the well-heeled suburbs, there would be hell to pay. But in my neck of the woods, where most of the folks are renters with substantial chunks of them being twenty-somethings and working class people of color, apparently they think they can get away with it. Either that or they are just that bad, period.
I guess the mayor’s office is too busy screwing the poor by trying to block the minimum wage increase to deal with the city’s infrastructure more efficiently after all. At least that’s the way it looks south of I-8 and east of I-5. But perhaps, if we are lucky, once it’s all over and the “25th Street Renaissance” has “beautified” my neighborhood, the infrastructural improvements will have paved the way for yet another wave of gentrification that will price us out of our rentals.
Somewhere a developer must be smiling.
Sean Brannan says
I’m in complete aggreement. I live in Goldenhill as well and have watched as nothing has been done for months. Prior to that we had many months of half finished work. The iciing on the cake for me was when I watched a senior citizen roll his ankle and fall in front of my wife and I as he tried to navigate one of the uneven/unfinished crosswalks at the corner of 25th and Broadway. A while back Faulkoner stood on that same street with a shovel and a big smile for the cameras promising big things for this neighborhood. At this point I think my neighbors would be happy if they just put it back to the way it was.
Jim Boydston says
This is what privatization of public services gets us.
You now have a realistic grip on what “improving the quality of life” really means when it comes to the city and anything connected to the city and the Greater Golden Hill entities who claim the singular goal of improvement. It means improving something for someone, but it won’t be you or the property owners or the residents of Golden Hill. You should complain to Todd Gloria, who is always ready with the “improve the quality of life” mantra in Golden Hill, and who has posed shovel-ready in all of the decades-long never-realized 25th Street “Renaissance” project photos. Better, call Todd’s go-to guy, Anthony Bernal, who is already running for the 2016 election for Todd’s warm chair on the dais.
I shudder at the thought that Todd or Anthony will lead any effort to improve the quality of life in my neighborhood.
bob dorn says
The same job’s been taking place on Park Blvd between Upas St. and El Cajon Blvd/Washington St. the last four months. What’s that, a half-mile? There’s no parking on the boulevard. Apartment dwellers must compete with zoogoing vacationers and Balboa Parkers swarming the neighborhood looking for a place to park the SUV. Pride Week was impossible. People in our 24-unit building didn’t even move their cars for days on end, fearing they’d never get another spot.
There’s an unholy dip where a line was cut and filled that’d bust suspension arms on a Hummer. They were flushing lines for days on end as I watched precious water running along the gutters to the storm drains. Heavy equipment is stored on some side streets, further decreasing parking. Some days there are no crews at all out there, but the cones and warnings stay up.
I’d be asking why they chose to do the job in the summer but San Diego (esp. Balboa Park neighborhoods) has been dedicated to year-round tourism, so this endless job will make us miserable through the Marathons, half-Marathons, Halloween Month, Komen Walks that are Coming in Fall.
What I’m now asking, thanks to Miller’s lament from Golden Hill, is: Why’d they attempt do these jobs simultaneously? Are they spending one day here, one day there, and stretching this out until they run out of ‘scuses?
I live on the corner of Park and Brooks (close to the Greek church). There’s been a few occasions where I had to opt to go into my alleway up to my apartment, grab a change of clothes for the next day and go stay in a motel.
bob dorn says
Not living on top of the Greek church I can say at least they’re local, and
have had their celebration longer than I’ve been in the neighborhood. But
the city’s whoring after tourism has filled up the central neighborhoods
almost three times a month with hungry and tired visitors yearning to be
free, looking for a parking spot.
If we could only get residential passes we could rent them out and make a
buck for ourselves, the way the Hotel Cabal makes its billions.
I don’t have problem with annual scheduled events like the Greek Fest or December Night or Pride, etc. We have plenty of time to plan for them and either opt not to drive out of the neighborhood for that whole weekend (and attend the events ourselves) or take a trip for the weekend. Often though the streets still get filled up even with nothing like that going and that can be a problem when we’re out and around doing whatever or working late and then come home and there’s nowhere to park. We also have construction going on with the piping and it’s taking forever and that just exasperates the problem. I think residential passes might not be a bad idea.
bob dorn says
Hillcrest Resident says
Uptown has lots of older (still affordable) apartments with no off-street parking. These renters must now walk farther from fewer open spaces to their homes. I believe the time has arrived to implement residential parking permits with two hours free for everyone. These signs work in other cities. Why not here?
How about a clause in the contracts that says “the principals will submit their cell numbers and leave the phones on every day, even if out of town. Not returning a call within 12 hours is cause for contract termination”?
After looking around a bit online, I found the city’s ebid board for the project. The bid went to Tri-Group Construction & Development, Inc. on Black Mountain Road. The owners are Hani and Ghassan (Gus) Assi. Their bid listed all of their preferred subcontractors, including the one for Water Group subcontract. You can see the details (easier to read if you download):
I doubt the work has stopped because a single person is “on vacation”: in any case, the primary contractors should be held accountable. You could always give them a phone call and request an interview for the SD Free Press!
Anna Daniels says
City Heights went through the same thing two years ago when our hundred your old water pipes were replaced. The contractor was Ortiz. The construction work in our back alley went on for eight months. I do know that the Ortiz construction crews would be gone for weeks at a time; the temporary pipes were hit by cars and leaks would turn parts of the alley to muck. Sometimes we were told that we would be without water, other times the lack of water came as an unwelcome surprise.
At one point the whole alley was going to be blocked off. The question arose where we were supposed to have our trash picked up if the trash trucks couldn’t go there. Pull the bins out to 45th street instead? When I asked the question about trash pick up (think July heat, think overflowing trash cans) the buck didn’t stop anywhere. Citizens were supposed to resolve questions with the contractor. The city provides supervisory oversight. Talking to the workers in the street was unhelpful. Tracking down a city supervisor was a long drawn out procedure– city departments have been left operating with a skeleton staff and many of the experienced employees are long gone. I called my council office.
This is a cautionary tale about privatization. There was a lack of transparency and accountability. I have to assume that doesn’t matter much because taxpayers saved gobs of money. Allegedly.
Common Sense says
Since when did “25th Street Renaissance” CHANGED ITS NAMED TO “Water Group Job 959”?! If you are going to call out a project then make sure to use the RIGHT flyer! #yousureyouteachenglish
It’s part of the subcontract; the city wanted to do the 25th Street and the water pipes simultaneously to avoid project overlay/destruction/construction. Somehow, Water Group 960 is also part of it. The sub, W.E.G. company is responsible for the water infrastructure work.
And to Anna D. : If Ortiz EVER comes into South Park again, I will drive them out. You would not believe some of the horror stories surrounding their sewer pipe undergrounding contract. It is the privatization nightmare of nightmares.
Common Sense says
You are SO wrong. The flyer shown in the article is for Water Group Job 959 which is a project CONNECTED to Water Group 960. Water Group 960 is part of 25th Street Renaissance NOT Water Group Job 959. Tri Group is the main contractor for 25th Street Renaissance and their sub is W.E.G. to do Water Group 960. Water Group Job 959 is being done by TC Construction. Water Group Job 959 (and its flyer) has NOTHING to do with what the article is complaining about.
bob dorn says
Why so angry?
Common Sense says
I wouldn’t call it me being angry. I agree with what the heart of the article is saying. Just don’t bring a project that has nothing to do with 25th Street Renaissance into this. Just go onto the City website and you can clearly see that Water Group Job 959 is next to 25th Street Renaissance.
Thank you Common S: I know Water Group 960 is the part of the 25th Street work, so, like you, I didn’t understand why the flyer for 959 was used as art in the article. Whatever. The “revitalization” of 25th Street has been going on since the 1980s, with little to show except elaborate, unfulfillable plans on paper and millions of dollars paid to consultants. If new water pipes get placed, that’ll be better than any of the schemes and dreams that designers and one local property owner cooked up to try to turn a totally functionable street into an impractical fashionable destination, at a huge price tag.
Bimbo Smith says
Really? 4 months, eight months? They started ripping up our streets in Islenair neighborhood here in City Heights 20 months ago. First for undergrounding electrical wires and cable, then sewer lines, then fresh water. They still don’t have the power lines done yet and re-surfacing the moonscape our street has become? Get out your Ouija board!
Dave Rice says
If I recall correctly it took about a year and a half for the water line guys that came through W. Pt. Loma and Cable Street here in OB, a distance of about 1.1 miles. Then maybe a few months more for paving. As I understand it there’s still work going on in other parts of the neighborhood inconveniencing different blocks of residents. And the job of replacing all the sidewalk corner cuts to add those rubberized dots has been going on intermittently pretty much since I moved here from East County nearly eight years ago…
Moral of the story: good luck on getting some action going with those street repairs – but you can collect luck with one hand and crap in the other…
Hey, Jim Miller, you going to love this: read “City breaks ground on Juan Street improvements” in Uptown News; there’s a great photo of K-Faulk and T-Glo, though you can’t see their shovels. (They are shoveling something, however. You know.)
“City leaders on Aug. 26 announced the start of an $8 million project to improve both the street’s surface and the outdated infrastructure below it.
The project, which is expected to take 12 to 14 months to complete, is the first example of a new infrastructure approach known as “One Dig,” where several different improvements are folded into a single project. ”
Guess 25th Street has a long wait. Because Juan Street is going to be the FIRST example of “one dig.” Keep moving those cones, Golden Hill Guerillas.