City Struck Out Twice in Replacing Electrical Pole at Ocean Beach

by on May 12, 2023 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

Your City At Work

By Geoff Page

Back in March in Ocean Beach, city crews removed the sand berms along the beach that they put up in October to protect areas landward from high winter surf and high tides.  During this removal work by the small Dog Beach jetty, a loader operator backed into a city pole and broke it just above the sand.

This was an expensive fiberglass or carbon fiber pole, which could be seen at the break. There was an electrical wire running through the pole. The city put two barricades over the downed pole and left it to age for more than two months. That is strike one against the city.

On Thursday, there was a crew there finally doing something. Asking a firefighter, whose truck was partially on the sand, what was going on, a few idiotic things were learned. There were several other firemen on the beach around the pole site.

The firefighter explained that the pole held a loudspeaker for announcements from the main guard tower. Because lifeguards are a part of the fire department now, somehow fixing this downed pole had become the responsibility of the fire department. Strike two against the city. City crews originally knocked the pole down and the city crews did nothing and left it to the fire department.

So, a collection of city personnel and five firefighters gathered around to make the repair and eventually erected a new pole. But first, they had to dig up the electrical line, and that took a while. One or two guys dug while being supervised by eight others. Strike three. Why was a crew of 10 people needed to replace a short pole?

It looked like the firefighters were doing most of the work. There appeared to be not one, but two, electricians. There was also a large city dump truck there. In the truck bed stood two city workers leaning against side, lounging. At one point, they got out and walked over to the site. They came back riding in the front bucket of a bobcat. Strike four for the city — that kind of thing has been a safety violation on construction sites for many, many years.

Strike five was what the two men were sitting on in the loader bucket. They sat on a stack of bags containing aggregate stone used when making concrete. There were so many bags that they filled the bucket of the bobcat loader. These bags were unloaded into the 10-yard dump truck — and that seemed to be all the big truck was there for.

Strike six — because it was painfully apparent that someone drastically over estimated how much aggregate was needed to make concrete for one pole. The bags were loaded in a truck from a city supply yard probably, brought to the site, unloaded, were loaded back up, then taken back to where they came from, and unloaded again. All for nothing. There was enough aggregate in bags there to make a cubic yard or more of concrete.

Strike seven was the equipment the city brought. A 10-yard dump truck and a large equipment trailer brought a small rubber tracked bobcat to the site. It appeared there were only two uses for it. It may have carried the new pole off a truck to the spot and carried the broken one out. Something that ten men could have done by hand. From the parking lot to the pole site is about 175 feet.

The only other use for the bobcat was to carry the aforementioned bags of aggregate to and from the pole location.

The cost of all this makes someone experienced in real construction absolutely crazy. The cost of the pole was probably near $1,000 — a fiberglass pole would be less but still costly. If the city has the right insurance, this money could be regained by making an accident claim. Not likely. City dump trucks and equipment, several city workers, all the firemen.

A private construction crew of three people at the most, and no equipment, could have done the job in four hours. And it would not have taken two months.

The city has no business managing or doing any construction. This was a perfect example on microcosm.  Imagine what happens with much bigger jobs?


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mat Wahlstrom May 12, 2023 at 11:30 am

This is a perfect example of the city’s irresponsibility in nutshell: make a mess and expect others to clean it up, and don’t worry about the cost because it’s on the taxpayer’s dime. Who is watching the watchers?


City work May 13, 2023 at 11:11 am

No way for 1 second should this have been done by outside contractors. It should have at best taken 3-5 weeks. Getting the pole being the dominant delay. City once again. Run like an east coast town if the 50s-90s. Sad. This labor force by the city needs to fire all top management.


unWashedwalmarThong May 13, 2023 at 8:07 pm

George Santos is watching the watchers.


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