By John Stump
Editor Note: City Heights activist John Stump sent the following to the Public Utilities Commission. It has been slightly edited for clarity and length from the original letter.
Rainbow Pipeline 1600 passes through heavily populated urban areas of San Diego, including my home community of City Heights. This pipeline is approaching 70 years of age and if it was human it would have retired, be collecting Social Security, and on Medicare. The San Bruno explosion made clear the scale of injury and property that could result from a pipeline failure. The Rainbow Pipeline 1600 is older, bigger, and under higher pressure than the disastrous San Bruno pipeline.
Not only does this old gas line pass under homes and apartment buildings, it passes through and directly adjacent to Central Elementary School, several child care facilities, the very and active City Heights Library, Farmers Market and park and police complexes, the Mid City Heights Community College campus, Clark Middle School, Hamilton Elementary School, and Webster Elementary School, in City Heights. The San Diego Unified School District maintains these facilities with some 2,500 or more students. Parents, teachers, and residents are unaware of the potential danger hidden just below the surface.
On several occasions, I have written San Diego Gas and Electric, the City of San Diego, the San Diego Unified School District, and the San Diego Community College to urge inspection and possible removal of this aged line. I believe that any future pipeline projects should NOT be routed through residential streets but rather should be rerouted along the freeway corridors that follow along the about the same routes. This alternate should be considered as part of the project reviews, including but not limited to, the CEQA and NEPA processes.
If the pipeline is abandoned, then it should be considered for reuse and reconditioning as a conduit for recycled purple pipe water which is produced along the pipeline North of the Highway 8 but unavailable in our area, south of Highway Eight. Additionally, the repurposed pipeline could be used as a secure conduit for undergrounding communications and fiber optics, whose hub is now in City Heights, along the current pipeline’s route.
I request that the above information be considered in any future project or remediation and inspection programs and projects. I request notice of the ability to comment, in the future, and that such notices, be prominently placed at each of the schools and public facilities listed above and along the pipeline route. Such notices should be prepared to communicate the projects proposal and the hazards, in the languages common to our community.
I also want the Commission to carefully consider the extensive natural habits in our community which surround the Chollas Creek, an impaired waterway with listed flora and fauna. Our city Heights community is a well-documented site of pre-settlement native indigenous peoples. Great care should be taken when planning any project through or along the Chollas watershed, creeks, and canyons.
John Stump is a long term City Heights resident, his Azaela Park home is under the big tree at 3 LEAF. He has been an active environmentalist for more than 50 years and past Chairman of the San Diego Sierra Club. He is an attorney and has served the City of San Diego as Chairman of its Equal Opportunity Commission under several mayors. John was chairman of the City Heights Community Development Corporation board of directors during its advocacy for covering the 15 Freeway and the addition of City Heights schools and bike paths. He is a past California Bar Commissioner for legal services. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org