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Farewell to ‘Lake Forward’? New construction aims to prevent flooding at La Jolla Boulevard roundabout

A new drainage swale at Forward Street and La Jolla Boulevard is meant to reduce winter flooding that creates "Lake Forward."
A new drainage swale was installed in October at Forward Street and La Jolla Boulevard to help reduce seasonal flooding that creates “Lake Forward.”
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Could 2021 be the first year in recent history that “Lake Forward” doesn’t form during the rainy season in Bird Rock?

At the encouragement of the community and with the help of San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, a drainage swale was installed that is intended to reduce the annual flooding that takes place at the roundabout on La Jolla Boulevard at Forward Street. Residents took to calling the area “Lake Forward” during the winter.

The swale was completed Oct. 28.

“Drainage issues at the Forward Street roundabout have been a problem for decades,” Bird Rock Maintenance Assessment District representative Barbara Dunbar said during the Bird Rock Community Council’s Nov. 2 meeting online. “It impacted the adjacent MAD landscape areas following moderate to heavy rains.”

She said MAD manager Matt Mangano has been working with the city the past five years trying to find a solution. At one point, the flooding was estimated to be 2 feet deep.

“Due to Matt’s efforts and those of our City Council representative [LaCava], a capital improvement project to fix the problem was approved and funded in the current city budget,” Dunbar said. “Now we are waiting for rain to see if it works, and we really hope it does.”

In 2017, residents said they were concerned that the water’s weight had created a burden on the pavement and was damaging the infrastructure. They said the street appeared to be sinking.

In 2019, the La Jolla Community Planning Association voted to recommend a fix for the flooding problem as part of the District 1 budget for the next fiscal year.

Other Bird Rock news

MAD update: The BRCC meeting doubled as a monthly community meeting and the board’s annual Maintenance Assessment District meeting. Updates were provided on what the MAD has helped accomplish and what problems remain.

BRCC supervises the MAD, including environmental, safety, maintenance, irrigation, water conversation and landscape matters.

The Bird Rock MAD was created in 2005 amid the need for traffic calming and after “many decades of speeding and life-threatening safety issues on La Jolla Boulevard,” Dunbar said. The city agreed to install roundabouts, bulb-outs, medians and other infrastructure if a MAD would maintain them. The MAD is responsible for the five roundabouts on La Jolla Boulevard, landscaped areas along the sidewalk, select landscaped medians, mini roundabouts on other Bird Rock streets and more.

“Since the last [annual MAD] meeting, the condition of the Bird Rock MAD landscaping has improved,” Dunbar said. “Landscaping and general maintenance continue to be performed while adhering to evolving city, county and state regulations and mandates regarding the pandemic.”

However, “numerous minor accidents … and far more serious major accidents” have impacted the MAD this year, she said.

“Most of the minor accidents were hit-and-runs and drive-overs that caused minor damage,” she said. “Unfortunately, the MAD has sustained considerable plant, guardrail, valve and irrigation system damage from the more serious accidents.”

Two damaged guardrails have not yet been repaired.

A vehicle drive-over damaged this landscaped area and infrastructure this year in Bird Rock.
A vehicle drive-over damaged this landscaped area and infrastructure this year in Bird Rock.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The MAD also has seen an uptick in coastal overlook usage and trash during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dunbar said.

“Littering by visitors remains a problem at ocean-view overlooks and corridors, particularly on weekends,” she said, adding that the MAD will continue its cleanup efforts there.

Discount app: A new app that will provide discounts at various Bird Rock businesses is coming Jan. 1 for members of the Community Council.

Craig Bender, representing the Bird Rock Merchants Group, said: “We’re excited about it and the merchants are excited about it because there are a lot of businesses that residents do not know are there, so this will give them some visibility. Our goal is to unite Bird Rock and support local.”

By paying membership dues, BRCC members will have access to the app, which automatically will apply discounts at participating merchants. To join BRCC, visit birdrockcc.org/join-the-brcc.

Next meeting: The Bird Rock Community Council’s December gathering is typically a holiday party, but one is not currently planned. The board does not meet in January. The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, online. Learn more at birdrockcc.org. ◆