Ocean Beach Pipe Repair Inches Toward Newport – Won’t Touch Sunset Cliffs Blvd Till After Labor Day

by on March 25, 2011 · 14 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, Popular

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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Seth March 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Thanks for this article, Frank. Just a quick point of clarification on the OBPB vote of 7-4. The motion put forth was over whether to allow the City to continue into the summer moratorium on construction up until when the project reaches Del Mar Avenue. I can’t speak for the other 3 who were opposed, but I do not feel that any extension into the moratorium should be granted. Many of this community’s businesses rely largely on revenue from the summer tourist season, and any disruption caused by construction is just an added strain on many people who already struggling in a down economy. In my opinion, no one should take that spilt vote as an indication that the OBPB was “kind of” in favor of lifting the moratorium.


Ed Murphy March 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

Any economists read this article who can tell us whether it’s better for everyone involved to use the current crew size or increase the number of workers on the project (which would affect some other project, so let’s not just assume “add more people” is always an answer)?? I’ve driven by on many a morning thinking the whole process is rather slow, but I’m not trained in this sort of analysis, so my opinion doesn’t mean much.


Frank Gormlie March 26, 2011 at 11:15 am

Is this the Ed Murphy who worked at the Inbetween???


Dave Rice March 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm

While I can see the validity of your assertion given an economy operating at or near its peak potential, the construction trades have been hit hardest in our region by the recession. I’ve got to assume that, if the employer was willing, it would be entirely possible in the midst of the Great Recession to simply ‘add more people’ to speed the project’s completion. The real problem would come when the job is done and the excess staff would face layoffs, along with possibly some of the existing crew if there’s not enough other work waiting after this project finishes up.


Seth March 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Not sure how much of the delays are due to a lack of manpower. Some of the reasons cited for the delay were all the rain days we have had and inaccurate maps. I believe there were also issues in getting some of the correct parts in on time. It is what it is, but construction into the moratorium just makes a bad situation worse, in my opinion.


Dave Rice March 27, 2011 at 1:49 am

You’re right of course, Seth – I’m not trying to imply that a larger workforce could get the job done any quicker, and I do recall a meeting a couple months ago where Landry Watson took the city to task a bit over the delays, which were at that point blamed mostly on weather, something beyond everyone’s control.


Citizen Cane March 26, 2011 at 11:02 am

“Work on the pipes will also be allowed to continue into early August, despite the moratorium.”

Early August is when K-12 kids go back to school in Arizona. So the Zonie tourist families come mostly during June and July. The business from San Diego day-trippers is probably also significant during June and July.

Is this project a redundant sewer line? Is anybody having their sewer shut down during construction?

I would rather they build a beach bathroom during the Summer moratorium.


Citizen Cane March 26, 2011 at 11:45 am

On another tangent….during the recent months I’ve noticed that most of the heavy equipment on this job is NOT made in America.


Sarah March 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Is any heavy equipment made in America now? If it is, I’m sure it’s more like “assembled in America”. Do we even make steel anymore?


Dave Rice March 26, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Or possibly not even assembled here. Caterpillar is the largest US maker of heavy equipment, and I recall reading a while back about their moving a lot of assembly to South America and Asia, to reduce the cost of transporting it to the locales that buy it. Designed in America, parts constructed in Mexico and shipped to China or Brazil for assembly is the likeliest scenario.


Patty Jones March 26, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Caterpillar is the parent company of Solar Turbines (and I’m betting anyone who lives in San Diego knows who they are) who is the largest customer of the company I used to work for. The company who shipped the whole machine shop to Poland so they could make the parts there and ship them back to San Diego. Nice, huh?


Sarah March 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Real nice, Patty. But, hey… it’s only business! Don’t take it personally.

(with tongue firmly in cheek)


Dave Rice March 27, 2011 at 1:59 am

My old job is now in India – thanks to cheaper, more reliable internet and telecom it even makes sense to outsource the business sector, since there aren’t a lot of manufacturing jobs left for American companies to ship out of America.


Sarah March 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

I understand there is a whole new career track now for people to manage the logistics of outsourcing jobs.


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