ENCINITAS — Overwhelmed by demands for sandbags with the imminent arrival of a potentially record-breaking El Niño, Encinitas has suspended its daily sandbag giveaways at the public works yard.
Instead, the city has opted to host two sandbag giveaway events, one in January and another in March, for residents in need of the barrier-building bags.
“We are trying to balance our ability to perform our regular operations and assist property owners,” city public works director Glenn Pruim said. “It has become very difficult for us to manage that.”
Pruim said the city has traditionally placed sand and bags in front of the public works facility on Calle Magdalena for residents to take, limiting the amount per resident to 10 and capping the total number of sandbags given to 1,500.
This year, however, the city doubled the amount of bags it would give away after meteorologists predicted that California could face the strongest El Niño event since 1998, which caused widespread flooding and landslides throughout the state. The meteorological event is expected to hit California with heavy rainfall over the course of winter and early spring.
Pruim said the sandbags were gone within a matter of weeks, and requests for them haven’t waned.
“It’s a very small handful of folks trying to accommodate the requests,” Pruim said. “They have to check IDs to make sure that people aren’t coming back multiple times for sandbags, and while it isn’t necessarily a hard process, when you have a lot of people come through it becomes a burden on staff.”
If residents can’t wait until the scheduled giveaways, the city has provided a list of places where they can be purchased, including local hardware stores.
The two 1,500-sandbag giveaways are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 15 and Mar. 11. Residents have to bring proof of residency in order to get the sandbags, which will be available until supplies last.
Carlsbad Director of Public of Works Pat Thomas said the city has supplies and will order more when its stock dwindles. Residents can pick up bags at the city’s Streets Division, 405 Oak Ave. and the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, 5950 El Camino Real.
Both locations are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is a 10-bag limit per resident per visit for no cost.
In addition, the city website also directs residents to a link of local and national retailers who sell sandbags.
As for Escondido, messages left with city officials were not returned at press time.
However, according to the city website, residents can pick up to 10 bags at the Kit Carson Park Amphitheater, 3333 Bear Valley Parkway.
Residents can also purchase bags at Dixieline Lumber, 561 N. Tulip St., Grangetto’s Farm & Garden Supply, 1105 W. Mission Ave., and three Home Depot locations (1550 W. Valley Parkway, 1475 E. Valley Parkway and 1070 W. Mission Ave.).
Steve Puterski contributed to this report.