Del Mar residents say $570,000 city project will have minimal impact

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jun 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 21:31:19-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Del Mar Heights residents are questioning how the city is spending money they say is reserved to improve their neighborhood.

Instead, the city is poised to spend $578,000 on fixing a drainage system in an industrial part of Sorrento Valley.

"$500,000 into an abandoned property. I'm not sure what benefit came of that," said Troy Van Horst, a member of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board, which is asking the city to investigate the expense.

The city says the project is beneficial and will protect properties in an area prone to flooding. 

Van Horst and his board, however, are expressing frustration at how the city is spending developer impact fees for the Torrey Pines area. Developers doing projects in the area pay the fees to mitigate impacts from their work. The city decides how to spend the money, but planning groups like the Torrey Pines board play an advisory role in those choices.

Van Horst said the board promised the community it would do traffic calming on busy Del Mar Heights Road, including a traffic light. It planned to use grants and the developer fees to make that happen. But the balance in the neighborhood's account is now $139,889, not enough to afford the project.

"It was basically trying to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, kids getting across the street to go to school," Van Horst said, noting two elementary schools on either side of Del Mar Heights Road.

The city is using $578,000 to fix a drainage system on Industrial Court in Sorrento Valley. The site is near a vacant parcel that Caltrans is currently planning to auction. The area is prone to flooding, and Caltrans even demolished several buildings that were filled with mold and mildew.

The city said in a statement that the project has nothing to do with Caltrans sale, but is about safety. Councilwoman Barbara Bry, whose district includes Del Mar Heights, backed the project in a statement.

"Storm drainage has been included on the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board’s Priority List, and this project is a piece of the much-needed storm drainage infrastructure puzzle," Councilwoman Barbara Bry said in a statement. "Although the group might want one project done before another on their priority list, we have to do what we can to get projects completed in an expeditious and cost-effective manner."  

Van Horst said the board is looking at other ways to fund safety improvements along Del Mar Heights Road.