Penasquitos Lagoon teeming with mosquitoes: Infestation blamed on dredging delay

DEL MAR, Calif. - Some Del Mar residents who live near the Penasquitos Lagoon say it is teeming with mosquitoes.

The source of the problem is back at the mouth of the lagoon, which is choked off. The water is stagnant and has become a virtual breeding ground for mosquitoes. Some people in the area spoke with say nothing is being done about it.

These days, Jennifer Gerling is afraid of what is lurking outside her front door.

"They were swarming out here," she said.

Her Del Mar condo is a half mile from the Penasquitos Lagoon, which is now teeming with mosquitoes.

"You know, just swarms," Gerling said. "I'm from the Midwest, so I'm used to it but there was just dozens of mosquitoes just flying around."

The mosquitoes were not just any mosquitoes. County vector control told 10News they are the dreaded western encephalitis mosquito, which is the most efficient in transmitting the West Nile virus.

The county sprayed last month. However, the real problem lies when the annual high tides during the winter cause the sand to build up, cutting the lagoon off from the ocean. It quickly becomes a freshwater haven for mosquitoes to breed.

"So, the mosquitoes are out of control," said Del Mar resident Noel Spaid.

Longtime residents say this year has been especially bad because the mouth of the lagoon is usually dredged by now.

"We are getting nothing but pass the buck to the point where it's some lawyer somewhere for the state that is responsible for holding up permits," said Spaid.

In fact, the California State Park Commission has pulled permits for the annual dredging.

"We have been told as citizens we cannot go down there with a shovel and open this up ourselves, that we'll be arrested," said Dennis Ridz, who is with the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board.

The county has specifically said that they cannot do it because that would be illegal. So where does that put the citizens?

San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner has the same question of the state.

"I'm as frustrated as they are," she said. "It's something we've been working on for awhile.  It is something where the state didn't have money to dredge this area and the city stepped up six months ago and said we'll help you out and all the state has done is throw roadblocks in the way."

The dredging is scheduled to begin on Monday.

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