Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
Alvarado Creek in Grantville once again overflowed its channel the first weekend in December.
This has been going on for years — I’ve written about it several times on these pages.
This time, though, it was different — bigger, faster moving, and more destructive than usual.
It kind of attracts your attention when you see the floodwaters were strong enough and fast enough to lift an 18-wheel semi-truck up and into the creek bed.
Property owners in the area are fed up. They have been for years, but this flood was too much.
“We have to get something done. This keeps happening, and the city and the Metropolitan Transit System keep promising that it’s going to be fixed, but nothing happens” said David Smith, vice president of El Dorado Properties in the 5800 block of Mission Gorge Road. “The city Planning Department sort of addressed this in the Grantville Redevelopment plan it put together, and that was fine as far as it went. But the city Transportation and Storm Water Department now has to take over. They have to do their own report and can’t base it on what the planning people found in their research. All of this is because they’re all competing for funding to do the studies, and then they’ll be fighting for funding to actually fix the problem.”
Smith said the Transportation and Storm water bosses say they can’t get started on their study because they just don’t have enough staff to do the job.
“They said it could be five years before they got to it,” he added.
Anthony Santacroce from Transportation and Storm Water disputes that. “The Alvarado Creek is slated for work sometime in 2020,” he said.
He also points out that some of the creek area is in private hands, and the city is not responsible for those parts.
Smith agrees with that, and said private parties are willing to assume their share of the costs, but not without guarantees that the publicly funded work is underway.
Meanwhile, the creek overflows every time there’s a storm. Businesses along Mission Gorge Road and Mission Gorge Place once again find themselves cleaning up flood damaged businesses and offices and looking again at a creek that is far too narrow (in some places, only 13 feet wide), far too shallow, and far too overgrown with non-native vegetation that isn’t even supposed to be there.
They look at a concrete box culvert under Mission Gorge Road that is supposed to have four channels for water to run through- right now, two of them are clogged, and who knows when the city will clean them out.
Another box culvert will be needed to channel the runoff to where it’s supposed to go — into the San Diego River. Right now, the flood flow is a threat to a large car dealership, a Chili’s restaurant and Home Depot across Mission Gorge Road to the west.
Part of the problem with the creek is that there is so much concrete in huge chunks in the channel, that it gives places for vegetation that might have flowed downstream a place to get caught and snag more vegetation, thereby creating even more blockage in a channel that didn’t need any more blockage.
Much of that concrete came from demolition of structures in the area to make room for the Grantville Trolley Station. The Trolley folks admit that it is their problem to clean up.
“We know it has to be done” said Rob Schupp, spokesman for Metro Transit. “We don’t have a firm start date, but we are planning to start the cleanup in four to six weeks, and get it done as soon as we can.”
Most of the area that finds itself underwater when it rains is on properties that may one day become housing — apartments and condos surrounding the Grantville Trolley stop. It’s in line with the city’s philosophy of trolley-oriented residential communities. Grantville needs the business — it is one of the least-used trolley stops in the entire trolley system. But converting that area of Grantville into a mixed-use housing neighborhood will never happen if the flooding problem isn’t addressed.
—Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.