La Jolla Shores utility projects suffer delays


By Ashley Mackin

As Sewer and Water Job 809 along Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores continues with repairs to sewer and water lines, it seems the lines of communication could also use some work. At the La Jolla Shores Association meeting March 12, concerns were raised regarding some unexplained and unexpected construction, and changes to the work schedule that were required last-minute.

The project has “not progressed as quickly as we thought,” said Steve Lindsay, Senior Construction Engineer for the City of San Diego, addressing changes to the work schedule and the reasons behind it.

Workers will replace the 50-year-old storm drain at the end of Avenida de la Playa and 1,300 feet of piping leading up to it, repairing more than 9,000 feet of sewer and water pipes throughout the Shores. The work will now be conducted weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to sunset and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the beginning of the summer construction moratorium, May 26. In order to have the necessary work done by then, construction will also take place two blocks at a time, deviating from the pre-approved one block at a time, starting at the western-most end of Avenida de la Playa and moving east. Beginning this week, segments of Avenida de la Playa will be closed.

The reasons behind the delay included weather (which turned out to be both helpful and inhibitive), miscommunication with suppliers and other construction projects in the area.

Though the clear and sunny weather during most of February and March caused no rain delays, it also brought an influx of beach-goers, which increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Additionally, Lindsay reported some supplies came in that were not to the specifications required, and had to be re-ordered, delaying certain segments of project. Further, SDG&E undergrounding was underway at the same time as Job 809, causing unexpected hindrances.

Though e-mail updates are available through

the city uses a program to distribute its notices that Gmail automatically captures and stores away. LJSA Chair Tim Lucas, a Gmail user, said he found the e-mails about the project under the “promotions” label.

Other issues with communication came when crews went ahead with work that had not been publicized. One resident reported infrastructure related to the project had been installed next to her house with no notification and she cannot use her garage as a result. Though temporary, the resident said she would still like to have been notified.

Another “foul-up” came when crews started cutting into sections of Avenida de la Playa in February, Lindsay said. As reported in La Jolla Light, during the February meeting, Izzy Tihanyi, co-owner of Surf Diva said cement cutting had begun and that the business owners she spoke with were not notified. Christian Malecot, owner of Voulez-Vous Bistro, added that during that time, all his customers had to sit inside due to construction noise, which he called “unbearable.”

Lindsay reported that crews were trying to get ahead in their work, and proceeded without notifying Lindsay and his team.

Additionally, during the archaeological study involved in the construction project, work took place at the intersection of Camino del Oro and Vallecito, directly in front of Kellogg Park. Lucas said during that time, Camino del Oro was essentially a one-way street and no one was directing traffic during that time.

“A traffic plan was set up for this and was essentially thrown out the window,” Lucas said. “It’s hard for me not to get angry here because we spent two years in mitigation, and I’ve said there needs to be outreach and was assured that would happen. Outreach is not hanging door-hangers, outreach is knocking on their doors and telling people what is going to happen.”

If city workers had, Lucas alleges, the team would have realized that some residents will lose parking on their street during construction, and in some cases, front door access to their homes. Promising better outreach and communication, the city team said they would look into parking alternatives for residents and work to get the job done as quickly as possible to avoid further inconvenience.

“We will make every effort to try and correct something that will assist the public in gaining more access,” said project superintendent Gary Marty.

In other LJSA news:

All eight candidates in this year’s board election were elected and will serve either one or two years terms — although Lucas advises that through the year, positions become available and can be filled on an interim basis. The newly elected members include: Pam Boynton, Janie Emerson, Sue Geller, Ray Higgins, Terry Kraszewski, John Kassar, Brandon Price and Susan Thomson-Tschirn.

— La Jolla Shores Association meetings take place at 6:30 p.m. second Wednesdays at 8840 Biological Grade. They next meet April 9. More at