OPINION: Time for Caltrans to pick up
By Joe Dicks
President, La Jolla Shores AssociationOkay, I have been harping on this trashy issue for over six months now. We have all noticed the unsightly accumulation of litter along La Jolla Parkway, the main gateway into La Jolla. Litter removal is one of those basic hygiene and safety services that a community needs from government, especially a community like La Jolla that sits below a stretch of open space that is vulnerable to fire, as well as upstream from a protected marine habitat that is vulnerable to contamination. And, while individual community members often help pick up trash along our local beaches, individual volunteers cannot safely attempt to pick up trash on busy thoroughfares such as La Jolla Parkway, unless police are present to help supervise and re-route traffic.
Thanks to City Councilmember Sherri Lightner, the City of San Diego appears to have responded with an effort to clean up the City’s portion of La Jolla Parkway. However, Caltrans has ignored all calls to action with respect to the State’s portion. There is a dividing line at the crest of La Jolla Parkway as you head east toward the 5/52 freeways, where the City of San Diego’s trash pick-up responsibilities end, and Caltrans’ responsibilities begin. At this border, and all points east to the I-5 freeway, the roadway and ramps are strewn with trash. Some of the more prominent pieces of trash have been there for over five months.
I have it on good authority that Caltrans has been approached by both City and State officials, including Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, asking that something be done about the trash. Caltrans has refused all requests for assistance and ignored the increased accident and fire danger posed by the trash problem, as well as the damage that can result to marine life when trash washes or blows onto our local beaches. Caltrans, where are you? Why are you not doing what you have been commissioned to do? Why do you continue to ignore reasonable calls to do your job?
When government fails to respond to repeated requests for assistance from its citizenry, the community must take action. If La Jollans and others who care about our community do not insist that government entities remain accountable for carrying out the basic responsibilities entrusted to them, then we are part of the problem.
Starting in November, I will be bringing measures before our local community organizations to permit the periodic closure of portions of east and west-bound La Jolla Parkway and the I-5 freeway entrance ramps so that community volunteers (supervised by law enforcement personnel) can take responsibility for doing what Caltrans has steadfastly refused to do. These proposed road closures will require police assistance and will result in temporary inconvenience to motorists. Perhaps if Cal Trans and our elected State representatives hear from you in the meantime, they will start doing their job and this “self-help” effort won’t be necessary. Or, perhaps you have a better idea to solve this problem. But, continuing to do nothing while the trash piles up in La Jolla is simply not an option.