Neighbors upset senate bill will fund a campground and not a fix for pollution

Posted at 6:31 PM, Nov 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-10 00:48:19-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Many residents living in and around the polluted Tijuana River Valley expressed frustration this week with a plan to use taxpayer money to fund a campground instead of working on a fix to the raw sewage pouring over the border from Mexico into San Diego County. 

California Senate Bill 507 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown last month and allotted $1.5 million towards a campground and only $500,000 to study potential fixes to the sewage.

“It seems like it’s the bastard child of San Diego and it just sucks.  It’s not fair,” said Ginger Sacco of the Citizens Against Sewage group.

Sacco told 10News they were under the impression the bill, which was backed by Senator Ben Hueso and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, would be used to fight the sewage problem.  Instead, Sacco said they only learned last week most of the money would fund a campground backed by San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox.

“I can’t imagine people in their right mind wanting to camp down here knowing all the sewage and toxins that have been coming through here,” said Sacco.

A spokesman for Supervisor Cox emailed 10News a statement:

“The $2.1 million comes from a 1988 State park bond act that was specifically designated by the voters for the purchase of land to expand the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park. At this time, after the purchase more than 1,800 acres, there are no additional lands necessary for inclusion to the Regional Park, therefore, we sought State legislation to slightly shift those park funds for the creation of the park and open space amenities.

$500,000 of that money was allocated to study potential fixes to the sewage spills on the U.S. side….County taxpayer money designated by the voters for a County park is not the proper funding source for an international water pollution prevention and treatment project costing hundreds of millions of dollars.”

A spokeswoman for Senator Hueso said she issued news releases that mentioned the campground element.  Sacco said the residents never saw or heard about the campground until recently.

An SB 507 promotional YouTube video featuring Assemblyman Gloria focused heavily on the sewage damage but doesn’t mention the campground.  His spokesman sent 10News a statement:

“Assemblymember Gloria has been and remains committed to exploring solutions that will stop the pollution in the Tijuana River Valley. The purpose of the video was to highlight the State’s commitment to funding a feasibility study for the development of infrastructure on the U.S. side of the border.

As mentioned in the video…this bill starts us on a path toward a long-term solution. It is worth noting that without SB 507, the State would not be funding a feasibility study. In fact, none of this money would be coming to the Tijuana River Valley.”