Hillside Drive is a one-mile-long, narrow, winding street that runs from Torrey Pines Road to Via Siena, where it connects with Via Capri. Residents’ complaints to the City about the state of disrepair and constant construction underway in the area (which have been piling up for several months), are now met with concerns over illegal parking on the public right-of-way.
An undetermined amount of single-family residences along Hillside Drive are under construction (at least two according to the City’s calculations, with three more requesting permits, and up to 11 in some neighbors’ opinions). Plus, the “Tyrian St. & Soledad Ave. AC Water Main” project is installing and replacing water and sewer mains in the area.
Hillside Drive is also a fire and emergency lane for large safety vehicles. As a consequence, significant segments of the road are “No Parking” zones. Neighbors have taken issue with what they perceive is the extended disregard by construction workers of parking laws in the area.
“While those projects are going on, you have a dozen pickup trucks parked on a street that’s 18 feet wide in some areas,” said resident and retired contractor Chris Day. “They ignore No Parking signs, park on the wrong side of the street, park against walls, on blind turns — it’s completely irresponsible.”
Added neighbor Mike Furby, “It really jeopardies public safety.”
But what motivated them to start writing letters to La Jolla Light, was the lack of response from the City. “I have brought this up with the Police Department, they don’t care. The Fire Department, they don’t care. Development Services, they don’t care,” Day related.
At the request of the Light, City public information officer for the Development Services Department, Paul Brencick, clarified in an e-mail, “The City’s Development Services Department does not have the authority to enforce No Parking violations. As such, if anyone is parking illegally on Hillside Drive, this becomes a parking enforcement issue and residents with complaints about the situation should notify the City’s Parking Enforcement <FZ,1,0,17>Department. Residents should report illegal parking by calling (619) 531-2000.”
Brencick said contractors are advised to avoid parking in No Parking zones and to keep street access open for neighbors at all times. Similarly, City public works communications officer Alec Phillipp wrote, “Contractors are advised to park within the construction zone to minimize the footprint of the project. If they park outside the project in No Parking zones, they do so at their own risk of being ticketed.”
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) also directed neighbors to the Non-Emergency Line (619) 531-2000. “The public may also visit any area patrol substation and inform the front counter officer of the problem area in order to request extra patrol/enforcement,” said SDPD media agent Mark Herring. “Both police officers and parking enforcement officers jointly share the responsibility of enforcing parking laws throughout the City. I can only speak for SDPD’s responsibility, but I do know that as a department, we focus our enforcement based on the concerns and complaints from the community.”
But residents don’t agree. Anne Gilchrist said, “I’ve called numerous times for patrols and have never seen evidence of them coming.” Added Furby, “There’s no enforcement. You can post all the No Parking signs in the world, but if there’s no enforcement it’s an exercise in futility.”
For Diane Kane, another resident of Hillside Drive and a board member of the La Jolla Development Permit Review committee, “My complaint is they are using the street to stage construction because they’re using up every square foot to build (in the single-family residences).”
Furby said, “In the public work side, there should have been more due diligence in making the contractor responsible for getting a traffic control permit, posting a sign down the street, identifying construction equipment that’s going to be left on the street, because driving at night in the mountain roads could be dangerous.”
Asked about construction staging in public-contracted works, Phillipp wrote, “When a staging area is required, the (City) engineer works with the contractor to identify an area near the project that poses a minimal impact.”
In the City’s bidding documents for the Tyrian St. & Soledad Ave. and AC Water Main project there is no mention of construction staging, but it’s stated that the contractor must have traffic plans “coordinating access for vehicular and pedestrian traffic to businesses, institutions and residences impacted by the Project.”
Kane explained that “when we were a less developed city, there was space for people to (stage construction on the street), but traffic has increased and we have already built-up neighborhoods. We need more thought about how they are going to stage construction, do traffic control and where are they going to have (construction workers) park. Nothing is coordinated, the <FZ,2,0,17>City doesn’t even recognize it’s a problem!”
The company awarded the water and sewer project, PK Mechanical Systems, Inc., didn’t respond to the Light’s requests for information on their construction staging and traffic control procedures.
Furby pointed out there are “better” ways to stage construction.
“For one, have very professional adequate traffic control, meaning, if I was required to leave equipment out on the street, it would be lit and identified with barricades or delineators with reflective tape on them; I’d limit the amount of equipment parked on the public right of way; and I’d have certified flagmen, people on the street who know what they’re doing, they communicate with radio and they manage traffic,” he explained, adding that another “good practice” is shuttling workers in to areas where parking is limited.
In October 2016, a truck run over resident Maureen Dulbecco’s driveway on Hillside Drive, causing property damages in the thousands of dollars. “There was a fence destroyed, all the bushes were smashed and a black pine tree that had been there for 35 years was uprooted,” she told the Light.
Dulbecco explained that she lives on a sharp turn, and when big trucks can’t make it, they drive over her property. After the incident, she asked construction sites up and down the street if they had had any deliveries, but they all said no. “Part of the problem is that drivers may come in from somewhere else in La Jolla,” she said.
Hillside Drive is a street where tractor-semis over 25 feet (Kingpin to rear axle) are “not advised.” Signs indicating the regulations to truckers are posted at the Torrey Pines and Via Capri intersections, but according to Dulbecco, “There’s no warning sign at the corner of Soledad and Hillside Drive, and they may be using GPS systems that show them this route.”
During rush hour, resident Day indicated, many motorists choose to drive on Hillside Drive, “trying to get around the blockup on Torrey Pines (Road). The challenge is that the street was never built for that.”