ENCINITAS — The City Council voted unanimously to send a formal response to a grand jury report on Aug. 22.
The answer is due to the San Diego Superior court by Aug. 28.
The San Diego County Grand Jury released a report on May 29 detailing how the city has failed to follow through on plans suggested nearly eight years ago to ease flooding in Leucadia.
The panel recommended the city immediately begin to create a plan to curb the flooding. The report includes a recommendation that the city divert rainwater through the base of a bluff in the Leucadia Roadside Park, an area the report calls the “most troublesome low-point” in the area. “Despite the profusion of possible storm drain fixes, Leucadia has never achieved a consistently workable system,” the report reads in part.
Tony Kranz, a candidate for city council and Leucadia resident, said he was generally supportive of the grand jury response. However, he said flooding still occurs and that diverting excess water from Leucadia over the bluff is “much less than satisfactory.”
He said he agrees with a plan to investigate a grade separation project, such as the one suggested in the response.
“It’s long overdo,” he said. “I would encourage you to make that a priority,” Kranz added of a plan to separate the railroad tracks. While the council agreed, several remember seeking funding assistance from federal and state government sources without success.
Councilman Jim Bond said he read the grand jury report “with mild interest.”
“They (the Grand Jury) had a grasp of the obvious,” he said. He said he was annoyed that the Grand Jury came up with the same suggestions that previous councils had tried; some of which were not well-received by the Coastal Commission.
Bond said a 24-inch pipe leading to the Batiquitos lagoon that diverts the excess water away from the city, was the only suggestion that was feasible at the time it was implemented. A 2004 study by Rick Engineering recommended a system that would send overflow water through a main drainpipe, running from Batiquitos Lagoon to Leucadia Roadside Park, would range from 5 feet to 10 feet in diameter and cost $36.2 million to install.
Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar said advances in technology would help the issue and assured the public that the council was interested in addressing Leucadia flooding.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth said she respected the public’s input on government. “It’s made us step back and review our processes and how we’ve improved the flooding issue; because we have,” Barth said.
A tide-flex valve, installed in 2004 valve installed at Roadside Park, was intended to relieve puddle water from Leucadia but has also been used to relieve old Encinitas’ overflow water during the brief rainy season.
Jurors also urged the city to explore creating a so-called special assessment district that would serve to raise tax money for future repairs and improvements to the Leucadia storm drain system.
“I found it fascinating that one of the solutions is an assessment district,” Mayor Jerome Stocks said. The cost to impacted parcel owner would be in the neighborhood of approximately $24,000. “Yeah, like that’s going to go over with anybody,” he said.
Stocks said the city is “managing the runoff,” in Leucadia better than in the past. For instance, changes made to the city’s land use policies do not allow new developments to add to the flooding and that continued pumping is sufficiently managing the issue.
The Grand Jury’s examination of Leucadia’s flooding found that no funding exists in the city’s budget for improvements to the storm drains in the community.