Hillside Improvement Project for Sunset Cliffs Park Delayed Again

by on June 3, 2015 · 5 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Sunset Cliffs Pk June015A Report of the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Advisory Committee Meeting of June 1, 2015

By Lois Lane

The City of San Diego is very good at planning; it’s that pesky implementation that always causes the problem.

In the case of the Hillside Improvement Project for Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, the expected start of construction has been delayed yet again.

You may recall, the nesting bird protection was a potential anticipated delay reported at the last meeting. This time, we are back to zero.

The contract awarded to Del Mar Construction has been held up due to bonding problems. This $250,000 construction project consists of putting in ADA compliant trails and planting the surrounding native plants. The contract requires a 5 year maintenance period, and the bonding companies refused to bond the company for the 5-year time frame.

Sunset Cliffs Pk June015 02

Entryway Native Plants (not doing well)

Certifying that those native plants are going to live for five years seems at best a calculated risk on everybody’s part, but it is expected that the bonding issues will be resolved. Bottom line – no construct contract yet. Total Planning so far is $1,000,000, with a total project cost projected of $4,100,000 million.

Meanwhile, the all- volunteer native plant experimental garden sea-side at Adair Street has had its own problems. This time it was the wind. Although some plants have survived, a re-planting is clearly in the future. Native plantings only occur in the fall and spring to increase the percentage of surviving plants.  Hopefully a fall planting will increase the planting to garden status.

On a more chipper note, it was announced by the Parks & Rec Representative, Vince Paniagua , that Sunset Cliffs Natural Park has won the Award of Excellence from Trip Advisor. This was based on the rating by guests of 4.5. The advisory committee, more focused on the desire for a Park Ranger to help to deal with all of these tourist visitors before we bring more in, seemed to consider it a puzzling honor.

Sunset Cliffs Pk Dixon House windo

Historic photo taken from Inside the Dan Dixon house. Courtesy of Walt Wysoczanski.

The main event of the evening was the introduction of a new project, the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Erosion Project. This project is just beginning and city staff attended the meeting as a kick-off for a long-term project. In attendance from the city were Sr. Project officer Ali Darvishi, Project Manager George Freiha, Sr. Environmental Planner Darren Genoa, and Parks & Rec Civil Engineer Paul Jacob.

Although some minor work will be done to remove existing structures from the site, the $2,500,000 million planning phase, including a full EIR, is expected to take three to four years to complete all permitting activities. The planners are just beginning to plan; we’ll keep you posted when the project planning is underway.

The 2007 Drainage Study funded by the city is now a distant memory; we can only hope that erosion doesn’t change the landscape faster than the planning can keep up.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lois Lane June 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm

The correct figures are: Total Project costs for the Hillside Improvement Project are $4,100,000 ($4.1 million). Budgeted for the Erosion Project Planning is $2,500,000 ($2.5 million).


OB Dude June 5, 2015 at 2:56 pm

“$2,500,000 million planning phase, including a full EIR, is expected to take three to four years to complete all permitting activities.”

Maybe if the park got named “Chargers Park”, the plan for action would be expedited! How frustrating the city let this park deteriorate!


Geoff Page June 9, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Any money, ANY MONEY, available to put toward the park needs to go toward the DRAINAGE PROBLEM. The ADA compliant trails and other cosmetics will do no good because the park is washing away. The only good thing about the drought is that this process has slowed naturally but the recent rains have done more, very obvious damage. Take some money, demolish the ballfield, use the dirt to fill the canyon north of the ballfield, and put in a damn pipe to capture the runoff from PLNU. And make that school pitch in on the cost because that campus is responsible for the damage to the park. You don’t start to build something beginning with the finishes. Without a solid foundation, those finishes are doomed.


Larry OB June 9, 2015 at 10:08 pm

I started going to the SCNPRC meetings in about 1988. If only we’d taken more action and done less planning, then we could have 25 year old trees by now.

I never liked the idea of piping drainage to the ocean. I once proposed building a cistern in Culvert Canyon out of traditional storm drain pipe, and then cover it over with dirt. I even made a small model and demonstrated that considerable water pressure could be generated at the bottom of the tilted cistern.

Seasonal duck ponds are another possible solution. Why can’t we just let the landscaping contractors deal with runoof and erosion. Isn’t that what Madame Tingley would have done?


Geoff Page June 10, 2015 at 9:21 am

I agree, a pipe is not the best solution. The best solution is to get PLNU to capture its runoff on top of the hill and deal with it in a number of ways including bioswales, maybe a pump station to send it east away from the park, cisterns, etc. A pipe could be an interim solution until other solutions are put in place, but in the meantime, the park is washing away. Getting the PLNU to step up has proven to be the real obstacle.


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