City to stop discharges from building onto Bonair Street; La Jolla Light request prompted investigation

A four-foot-wide semicircular yellow stain smears the concrete on Bonair Street, west of La Jolla Boulevard. Neighbor Monica Kelly said during the rains last winter, she started noticing water spraying out from a hole in the gutter. “(The water) smelled really bad of diesel and sulfur, and it stained the concrete, so we knew it wasn’t clean water,” she said.

After La Jolla Light forwarded the City of San Diego communications staff visual evidence of the pollution (see photograph), a Stormwater Code Enforcement officer visited the site and issued a Notice of Violation to the building producing the discharges — a commercial development at 6830 La Jolla Blvd. “The discharge was from a sump pump that is fed by roof drains and balcony drains (verified by a plumber hired by the management company),” City information officer Anthony Santacroce wrote in an e-mail.

According to the Notice of Violation, the building managed by Harman Realty Inc., was found to be in violation of the Municipal Code for the discharges. “The case is still open and we’re working with the management company to achieve compliance,” Santacroce added.

If the required actions are not taken, penalties can be up to $10,000 per day per incident.

Building manager Dee Ornognez told the Light that what was staining the concrete was “just stormwater. Whatever drains to the roof, the building has balconies on it and, usually, drainage will come out the side… but since there’s a garage, it goes to the lowest point and then it gets pumped out.”

La Jollan Dana Nelson was the first to alert the Light to the discharges. In a Letter to the Editor, published April 27, he wrote: “Polluted drainage has been pumped onto the street and down to the beach intermittently. This water has the smell of diesel fuel, and has stained the street and gutter all the way down to the beach. Many years ago, that property had a gas station and dry cleaners located there.”

Neighbor Kelly said City personnel had been onsite checking on the discharges before. “I called the City, and someone there said, ‘I can only come out if you call right when it’s happening.’ And it only happens for a couple minutes, so (the next time it happened) we got a sample. (Someone from the City) came, did a field test and said it was not raw sewage. I asked, ‘What is it then?’ ”

On the second visit to the discharge site by City employees, “there was only street staining from the discharge and a sample could not be collected,” Santacroce indicated. However, he clarified that “whether the water is visibly contaminated or visibly clean, the violation is that it is discharging at all.”

Nelson told the Light water was flowing down the gutter again Saturday, May 13. The City investigation is still proceeding, but no new information had been disclosed by this press deadline.

A four-foot-wide semicircular yellow stain smears the concrete on Bonair Street, west of La Jolla Boulevard. Neighbor Monica Kelly said during the rains last winter, she started noticing water spraying out from a hole in the gutter. “(The water) smelled really bad of diesel and sulfur, and it stained the concrete, so we knew it wasn’t clean water,” she said.

After La Jolla Light forwarded the City of San Diego communications staff visual evidence of the pollution (see photograph), a Stormwater Code Enforcement officer visited the site and issued a Notice of Violation to the building producing the discharges — a commercial development at 6830 La Jolla Blvd. “The discharge was from a sump pump that is fed by roof drains and balcony drains (verified by a plumber hired by the management company),” City information officer Anthony Santacroce wrote in an e-mail.

According to the Notice of Violation, the building managed by Harman Realty Inc., was found to be in violation of the Municipal Code for the discharges. “The case is still open and we’re working with the management company to achieve compliance,” Santacroce added.

If the required actions are not taken, penalties can be up to $10,000 per day per incident.

Building manager Dee Ornognez told the Light that what was staining the concrete was “just stormwater. Whatever drains to the roof, the building has balconies on it and, usually, drainage will come out the side… but since there’s a garage, it goes to the lowest point and then it gets pumped out.”

La Jollan Dana Nelson was the first to alert the Light to the discharges. In a Letter to the Editor, published April 27, he wrote: “Polluted drainage has been pumped onto the street and down to the beach intermittently. This water has the smell of diesel fuel, and has stained the street and gutter all the way down to the beach. Many years ago, that property had a gas station and dry cleaners located there.”

Neighbor Kelly said City personnel had been onsite checking on the discharges before. “I called the City, and someone there said, ‘I can only come out if you call right when it’s happening.’ And it only happens for a couple minutes, so (the next time it happened) we got a sample. (Someone from the City) came, did a field test and said it was not raw sewage. I asked, ‘What is it then?’ ”

On the second visit to the discharge site by City employees, “there was only street staining from the discharge and a sample could not be collected,” Santacroce indicated. However, he clarified that “whether the water is visibly contaminated or visibly clean, the violation is that it is discharging at all.”

Nelson told the Light water was flowing down the gutter again Saturday, May 13. The City investigation is still proceeding, but no new information had been disclosed by this press deadline.

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