At a City Council meeting Wednesday, Seacoast Drive residents and beachgoers continued to call for more action by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to address property damage and ponding.
Residents call the damage a result of the 450,000 cubic yards of sand supplied by SANDAG’s Regional Beach Sand Project.
“They still don’t understand the problem,” Boca Rio Condos resident Bob Hansen said of SANDAG. “They don’t address any of the problems. They just paint a beautiful picture of how wonderful they did.”
Following the completion of the project last October, residents complained about ocean water flooding garages, carports and other areas of their homes.
Seacoast residents are concerned about the long-term damage the project may cause their homes. Surfrider Foundation representatives also spoke on the sand project’s effect on surfing and safety.
In recent weeks, though an agreement with the City of Imperial Beach, bulldozers have been sent to the beach to make openings in the new sand to allow water that gathers during high tide events to flow back to the ocean, but residents insist that is not the answer.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Hansen and about 20 other residents, including Councilman Ed Spriggs, who lives on Seacoast, clamored for SANDAG to hire a hydrologist to see what is beneath the sand.
Hansen said hiring a hydrologist would be a step in the right direction in solving the problem.
“We need to know what’s underneath the surface, and SANDAG just doesn’t want to admit they’ve done a lousy job,” he told a council chamber with 50 people.
Shelby Tucker, SANDAG’s project manager, said she has witnessed residents’ property damage and several ponding issues firsthand, but maintains that the project is not all to blame for ponding issues.
“The ponding is occurring as a result of overtopping of waves, and we believe there is a connection between placing more sand on the beach and the ponding that occurred,” she said.
Tucker said to stop ponding they have to cut east and west openings to allow the water to drain back out. Additional regrading also is required to sort out areas where lower-lying sand would collapse, she said.
Robin Clegg, president of the Boca Rio Condos homeowners association, said SANDAG told her if she did not like what they were doing in fixing the problem—or if there was property damage—she should file a lawsuit against SANDAG.
Hansen said SANDAG told him the same thing.
Tucker denied such a statement was made.
“That is not true,” she said. “We would never want to encourage litigation. It would never be our goal to get to litigation. We would never want to have circumstances be such that people are harmed in a way that they feel litigation is required.”
Tucker said it was unfortunate that “a lot of threats” of legal action have been made.
“I think everybody wants this to be resolved and to have the beach be a wide sandy area for people to recreate and enjoy,” she said.
Hansen said Seacoast residents do not want to file a lawsuit. They just want the problem fixed, he said.
Councilwoman Lorie Bragg praised SANDAG’s efforts in trying to find a solution, but said the project clearly had some “deficiencies and severe consequences.”
Bragg said she wants to see immediate results from SANDAG and said it should satisfy residents’ request for a hydrologist.
“I think [Bragg] really nailed the SANDAG people. ‘We want results now.’ She asked the probing questions,” Hansen said.