Thursday, February 22, 2024

City Council Discusses Basements, Water Testing, and Loading Zones


After approving the consent calendar, there was discussion on the motion to award an as-needed Professional Services Agreement for Storm Water and Wastewater Compliance and Program Management to LaRoc Environmental. Councilmember Downey pointed out that the community is asking about this issue since we already have these services provided, and wondering why LaRoc Environmental was chosen to perform these services and not the City or County of San Diego.

City Manager King said that “this is for as-needed professional services. The concept is, we are establishing a business relationship with a consultant in anticipation of work on the horizon.”

Cliff Maurer, Director of Public Services and Engineering, explained that “over the past couple months the City of Coronado has been working very closely with the County, Department of Environmental Health and City of San Diego. We have put wheels in motion to switch to the county lab [for ocean and bay water testing] and get our laboratory certified to a level that will accredit the results the same way. Our results are now posted on the county website and the intent is to have the same validity and turnaround. Previously, our lab was 12-24 hours slower, but we hope to soon have same timeframe as the county.”

Currently, the five regularly tested locations of open water in Coronado are:

  1. State Beach – which the City of San Diego tests for nearby reclamation facility.
  2. South Beach – Avenida del Sol, which the City of San Diego tests weekly for reclamation facility.
  3. North Beach – City of Coronado tests regularly.
  4. Tidelands Park – Port District has authority and the County conducts testing for the Port.
  5. Glorietta Bay – County tests regularly.

Ultimately, this motion passed unanimously.


Community Development Director Rich Grunow stated that last August Councilmember Downey directed staff to prepare a basement report [regarding basement construction in Coronado]. In April, the Planning Commission recommended modifying shoring, dewatering and building permit procedures to improve noticing, application, and monitoring requirements. They also suggested requiring setbacks to better protect neighboring properties. In May, the council agreed with the Planning Commission and added requiring subsidence insurance for basements which involve dewatering, providing a basement informational report to the council in one year, and evaluating noise restrictions that could be placed on dewatering activities. The city has taken the following actions: changed public noticing and site posting cards to indicate whether there is dewatering and emergency 24-hour contact information; require concurrent submittals for shoring, building permit and dewatering, ramped up monitoring and reporting requirements, require basement general contractors to hire an engineering and geologic specialist to submit reports to City Building Division, researching subsidence insurance to be required for dewatering areas, help mitigate noise restrictions by requiring pumps to be placed away from neighboring property lines, use of acoustic barriers, noise control blankets and/or exhaust silencers; city-wide zoning amendment of a minimum of three-foot side yard setbacks for basement walls; working on a basement informational report.

After much discussion by all the councilmembers, the mayor pointed out that this is about risk mitigation and the council felt that this was taking steps in the right direction by requiring a minimum three-foot side yard setback for basements which require dewatering during construction. This motion passed with Councilmember Donovan voting against because he preferred larger setback recommendations.

Port of San Diego

Garry Bonelli, Vice Chairman, Board of Port Commissioners, thanked Councilmember Downey for her service and commitment to the community, and then proceeded to present the Port Authority Update.

He mentioned that there is good news for the South Bay as they develop the Port Master Plan, with public input and stake holder advice, through calendar year 2019, then it will go to the Coastal Commission. Grand Caribe Shoreline Park land use designation will be changed from community recreational to recreational open space, which should give the opportunity to make it more aesthetically appealing.

A new $1.2 billion development in Chula Vista will break ground next year. Houston-based developer RIDA Development will build a Gaylord Convention Center and Hotel, which includes retail and residential areas and open space. “This should be a game changer for the South Bay,” he commented.

Bonelli also pointed out that:

  • The Port Authority is close to executing an agreement with the Coronado Yacht Club to give them a five-year lease extension which will give them breathing room as they go through the Port Master Plan update to resolve where a promenade might go, in front or behind the club.
  • The Ferry Landing has best view from city and he plans to work with them on future enhancements.
  • Seaport Village will be undergoing a billion plus dollar development in the next four to six years.
  • The Convention Center expansion vote should be completed this week and depending on how that vote goes, the City and Port will decide how to proceed.
  • There is a $45 million proposal from the San Diego Symphony to put a permanent cone venue on the Embarcadero South Marina. They are receiving push back from the Coastal Commission, but are still working through that issue.

Councilmember Benzian asked Commissioner Bonelli about the Port’s position on putting dog parks on Port designated land. “The State Port Act prohibits it. There’s no synergy to a maritime use,” he said.

He also asked about the Bridge Lighting Project fundraising efforts. Commissioner Bonelli said that $2 million has been raised in private donations and they would like to conduct a test project to light one of the support pilings for several weeks. The Coastal Commission is not in favor of this project, due to the potential environmental damage.

He then asked about the Port’s involvement with the Tijuana River Valley lawsuit with Imperial Beach. Commissioner Bonelli pointed out that besides the 34 miles inside the bay, the Port also has jurisdiction of one and a half miles of beach water and Imperial Beach pier. They are all working with the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) and other entities with just legal filings thus far, and the judge has not finalized his decision.

Bus Loading Zone

City Manager King provided context for the proposal to implement a one-year trial measure to relocate the bus loading zone at the corner of Orange Ave. and First Street. Staff initiated a plan they would like to field test to address citizen environmental and traffic concerns from both The Landing and The Point HOAs with regard to commercial tour buses and oversize vehicles that park there.

Principal Engineer Jim Newton presented a report and highlighted that they set up a video camera on site to monitor the problem. They looked at options to relocate the tour buses, one was by the SDG&E substation, but the path of travel presented concerns. Their final recommendation was a one-year trial period at the intersection of First Street and B Ave., where they would remove the parking meters, modify the parking tees, and put up signage. They would then reduce the size of the loading zone in front of the Landing and add a metered parking space. After much discussion among the council and comments from three residents, they voted unanimously to modify the staff proposal and shorten the existing loading zone adjacent to The Landing by 10 feet and shorten the adjacent red curb zone by 10 feet to create a new 20-foot metered parking space. Two metered parking spaces at the intersection of First and B will be removed to create a new 40-foot-long bus loading zone, on a trial basis.

From Gas to Battery

City Manager King presented that a year ago, the council gave the city direction to reduce reliance on gas powered tools in response to noise and emission concerns, and the program is going so well that it will be completed by the end of the year. Cliff Maurer, Director of Public Services and Engineering, demonstrated a blower and mentioned that the golf course was originally exempted, but has piggybacked on their research and will also be compliant by the end of the year. Initially, the employees were worried about efficiency and battery life, but these concerns were unfounded and the employees like them better due to no fumes, the lighter weight with the same efficiency.

Reminiscent of Ghostbusters, Councilmember Benzian, who brought this proposal forward, poses with one of the new battery powered blowers used by city employees.

Additional items of interest:

The review and acceptance of the 2017 Annual Traffic Report. Councilmember Downey pointed out that it is interesting to note that traffic on the bridge went down, which is not what most people think the trend is. The finding are as follows:

  • The average traffic volume entering/leaving the city on a daily basis decreased from 102,400 vehicles per day in 2016 to 97,000 vehicles per day in 2017; this ranks as the ninth highest annual average traffic volume recorded since 1977.
  • The number of reported collisions decreased from 242 in 2016 to 218 in 2017; this ranks as the ninth fewest number of reported collisions since 1977.
  • One incident resulted in two fatalities in 2017 (DUI driver crossed over the median, striking a vehicle in the opposite direction near Silver Strand/Avenida del Sol).
  • No intersections of city streets experienced three or more collisions during 2017.
  • The following intersections along State Routes 75 and 282 experienced five or more collisions during 2017: Third Street and Orange Avenue (5 collisions) and Fourth Street and A Avenue (5 collisions)

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Review 2018 collision data for the Second Street and Orange Avenue intersection to confirm whether the positive trend regarding collisions experienced since construction of the bulb-out project continues.
  • Continue ongoing bulb-out design and construction efforts for the intersection of Fourth Street and A Avenue.

Councilmember Sandke pointed out the San Diego Metropolitan Transportation System (MTS) is offering free rides on October 2, including the 901, 904, and trolley routes.

City Manager King introduced Glen Schmidt, Schmidt Design Group, who designed trails and overlooks along Silver Strand Nature’s Bridge to Discovery. The first phase opened in 1999 and the next phase in 2003, and those projects have won numerous awards. The most recent award from American Society of Landscape Architects San Diego (ASLA) is an honor award for a landmark project over 15 years old which demonstrates long term community integrity and makes significant environmental impact.

He said that this is a testimony to City of Coronado’s long-term commitment to maintenance to the Silver Strand. He also thanked Phil Monroe and Liza Butler and Silver Strand Beautification Committee for their efforts.



Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

More Local News