If you’ve been on Cable Street lately, you can see what’s going on. The City’s pipe repair project is inching along, and soon it will hit the mainstreet of Ocean Beach, Newport Avenue. Right now, it’s about half a block away. Already local merchants have been complaining of how long it’s taking the work crews as it is cutting into their business.
From an informal calculation, it appears the project has moved a half block along Cable Street in nearly two weeks.
The $4 million project of repairing or replacing almost two miles of sewer lines has been disrupting OB for some time now, and the City has admitted at various forums that the project is behind schedule. The City claims that bad weather and inaccurate maps have slowed the project down, to where it is currently a month and half behind where they wanted to be.
To make up for this delay, the City approached the OB Planning Board earlier this month with a request that the City be allowed to work through the summer and complete the work that needs to be done involving Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. But at their meeting on March 2nd, the Board denied the request by a vote of 7 to 4.
Most Board members agreed with local merchants that allowing the construction through the “Summer Moratorium” on Sunset Cliffs would be overly disruptive. One businessman at that meeting said he had a bad summer last year and didn’t know if he could survive another bad summer caused by the project inhibiting the tourist trade that helps his business. The summer moratorium prevents public construction at the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Planners did agree to allow the City to complete work on the sewer line along Cable Street – where it is now – between West Point Loma and Del Mar Avenue. Once at Del Mar, the plan is for the project to switch directions and head east for one block to Sunset Cliffs Blvd. At that point, work is supposed to halt temporarily. Work on the pipes will also be allowed to continue into early August, despite the moratorium.
The City has promised to finish the last section – laying pipes underneath four blocks of Sunset Cliffs Blvd between Del Mar and Point Loma Avenue – once it starts up again after Labor Day – by Christmas.
Even though the OB Planning Board only has the power to advise the City on landuse issues, the City had earlier agreed to conform its work with the Board’s decision. This is actually a great development since usually City departments ignore the Planning Board as an important community forum for local issues.
Critics of the pipe project complain that is moving way too slowly, that the contractor should hire more crews and get the work done more quickly. Another more cynical critic noted that if there are sewer overflows or spills next Fall or Winter, the City can blame it on the businesses that said they would be affected adversely by the project continuing through the summer months.