July 2011 home page

  Sounds of Summer
Tom McGreal | Stratford Court


The cliffs between 9th and 11th streets.  Photo Virginia Lawrence.


SANDAG seems determined not to let you get any sleep this summer!
Much to everyone’s surprise SANDAG held an Open House on May 26th to announce that Phase 3 of the Bluff Restoration work would start on June 13th. The project work would be conducted in the evening between 10:30 PM and 5:30 AM five days a week from Sunday through Thursday throughout the summer. The summer start date announcement follows SANDAG’s earlier statement acknowledging that loud construction noise would be less impactful on the residents of Del Mar if the project was not conducted in the summer months when everyone opens their windows overnight.

The project involves drilling steel reinforced beams into the ground to a depth of 40 to 65 feet along the bluffs adjacent to the railroad tracks. The repetitive earth shattering noise will reverberate across the City five nights a week for up to 4 months.
The City of Del Mar holds a seat on the Board of Directors along with the other 17 area communities. The City of Del Mar however, has no authority to require changes, reject projects or make any other demands related to SANDAG projects.

On June 10th Mayor Mosier sent a letter to Mr. Gary Gallegos, Executive Director of SANDAG, requesting a postponement of the start of the project until September 15th. The Letter referred to the “unacceptably severe impact on area residents” in terms of their “quality of life” and “their potential to realize income from short term summer rentals”.

On June 20th the City Council received a written response from Mr. Gallegos denying the postponement. The City Council responded by issuing an Encroachment Permit to SANDAG with conditions designed to mitigate some of the noise and light nuisances, and with the stipulation that the Permit would only be applicable for night-time work commencing after Labor Day.

Of course, SANDAG can bypass the need for the Encroachment Permit by having the contractor enter the right of way outside the borders of the city of Del Mar. This will add to the cost of the project and create additional inconvenience, but it will not stop the project.

Mr. Gallegos letter makes two basic arguments. First, the delay will cost $150,000 to $200,000. Secondly, delaying the work will jeopardize public safety.

SANDAG’s logic doesn’t justify their conclusion. The Bluff Restoration project is a long term project not emergency repair work. The trains should be stopped if there is imminent danger. In fact, it was SANDAG’s own contract and procurement inefficiencies that delayed the project from early winter until June 2011. As to the costs, the lost summer rental revenue and hotel revenues in the City of Del Mar could easily exceed the costs of the delay to SANDAG. Apparently SANDAG can afford the costs and risks associated with their own delays, but they can’t tolerate further delays beyond June for reasons other than their own best interest.

Mr. Gallegos seems to be ignoring the most important issue, which is the health and well being of the residents of Del Mar. Residents spoke to the City Council about the detrimental effect to their physical and mental health resulting from sleep deprivation or sleep interruption over such an extended period. Many residents can remember the summer of 2007 when an earlier phase of the Bluff Restoration Project had the same detrimental effects on their health, so this isn’t a matter of over reacting to the potential disturbance. It’s a harsh reminder of what actually happened in 2007.

SANDAG appears more concerned with its project schedule and budget than maintaining respectful community relations. SANDAG needs to be reminded that they operate using public funding. Yes, it is our money allowing SANDAG to conduct the project that will potentially prevent us from getting a good night’s sleep five nights each week all summer long.

All we ask is that SANDAG postpone the project until the autumn when the weather cools, and we can sleep at night with our windows closed.
SANDAG may be operating outside the authority of the City of Del Mar, but Mr. Gallegos is not beyond the sound of our voices. Please let Mr. Gallegos hear from you on the timing of the Bluff Restoration Project. His contact information is shown in the box below.

Mr. Gary Gallegos, Executive Director SANDAG
401 B Street Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92101-4231
Email: GGA@sandag.org



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