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San Diego Reservoirs cut hours due to budget cuts

Posted at 4:58 PM, Jun 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-21 21:02:46-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)— The City of San Diego announced Friday it would be shutting down its reservoirs an additional weekday each month in response to a 3 percent citywide budget cut.

10News heard complaints from Steve Gordenker and his buddies, all regulars at El Capitan Reservoir.

“The summer months, I am here Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, every weekend,” Gordenker said.

As competitive freestyle jet skiers, El Capitan is their home turf.

“More time on the water equals results,” Gordenker said.

When the City of San Diego announced it would be closing El Capitan on the first Friday of every month, they were devastated.

“If we are not able to come on Fridays, then that limits us to two days a week,” Gordenker said. “And the problem is this is our only freshwater lake in San Diego County.”

Their only other option is to visit San Diego Bay. Gordenker said salt water is much harsher on their jet skis and makes it costly to maintain. That is why they chose to practice at the freshwater reservoir.

El Capitan is one of eight city-operated reservoirs that will be closed an additional weekday, starting July 1.

The closures are as follows:

Barrett – Closed the first Wednesday of each month.
El Capitan – Closed the first Friday of each month (starting August 1, 2019)
Hodges – Closed the third Wednesday of each month.
Miramar – Closed the first Tuesday of each month.
Murray – Closed the second Tuesday of each month.
Otay, Lower and Upper – Closed the second Wednesday of each month.
San Vicente – Closed the second Friday of each month.
Sutherland – Closed the third Friday of each month.

“It doesn’t even really make any sense,” El Capitan concessions manager Stacy Foster said.

Foster works for an independent contractor, Rocky Mountain Recreation. They provide concessions for most of the city’s reservoirs. If the lakes close, Foster doesn’t get paid.

“If they still have to pay the city workers and they are losing the revenue of the people that are coming in, they are not saving any money. They are losing money,” Foster said.

According to a city spokesman, maintenance and water staff will keep their hours because their duties fall under a separate budget. However, recreation-related workers will be affected by the closures because their duties fall under the 3 percent general fund budget cuts.

Out of the eight reservoirs, El Capitan is the only one to close starting in August.

“It is going to start in July for the other lakes, but here we were able to push it to August because it’s Fourth of July weekend,” said Foster.

Foster said their lake keeper was able to negotiate the start date since the closure would have fallen under one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Still, she is worried that the sudden change in schedule will inconvenience regulars.

“When they have a truck and a trailer with a boat on it, there is no place for them to turn around back there, so it is going to be a mess,” Foster said, pointing toward the gate.

As for Gordenker, he said he is disappointed. But he said it could be worse.

“They could turn the whole program off if they wanted, so we are fortunate to at least have two days.”

The closures are in effect for the next year.