By Tommy Hough
When I was running for San Diego City Council in 2018, I knocked on thousands of doors across District 6.
One afternoon, when I was canvassing in Mira Mesa, I stopped by a house on Gold Coast Drive. When I asked the homeowner if there was anything going on in the neighborhood he was concerned about, he led me by the arm from his front door to his front yard, where we were promptly hit by flying gravel as a car drove by at less than 25 miles per hour. "This is my problem," he told me. He wasn't the first.
If you've driven on Gold Coast east of Camino Ruiz over the last dozen years, this anecdote won't surprise you. I first drove along Gold Coast in 2003, shortly after I'd arrived in San Diego as part of the inaugural air staff at FM 94/9. Even then I remember remarking on how atrocious the road was – not just with potholes, but with cracks, gaps, bumps, asphalt patches upon patches, and intersections devolving into gravel pits.
I realize it's difficult to find a smooth drive in San Diego. Every neighborhood has their problem streets, but Gold Coast remains a potholed minefield where motorists are forced to drive like a slow-motion skier on a slalom run to avoid the worst parts, especially around the intersections at Westonhill and San Ramon. While not a lengthy stretch of road, it's a bus route and heavily-traveled arterial vital to our community and the commuters who drive to and from work in our city's economic engine every day. Gold Coast needs to be rebuilt now, in conjunction with the rebuild of Parkdale Ave. outlined in the city's Community Improvement Program (CIP) number B17188 (you can find other CIPs in District 6 here).
When I attended an informational meeting at the Mira Mesa Senior Center in the summer of 2018 to learn more about the proposal to rebuild Gold Coast Dr. and Parkdale Ave., the city's chief engineer noted with some amazement how bad Gold Coast had become, going so far as to mention his surprise that it hadn't already been rebuilt.
No surprise to you and I. Longtime Mira Mesa residents know the roadbed of Gold Coast and others were built quickly and on the cheap in the early 1970s, and failed long ago from a clear intrusion of water, bad drainage, and loose soils. All of these factors, plus the fact that much of Mira Mesa was rapidly, and unecologically, built upon naturally occurring vernal pools at the time of rapid construction beginning in 1970, have conspired to make Mira Mesa roads notoriously bad. But Gold Coast, one of the most heavily-used arterials in the community, has become the poster child for civic neglect. I made my case on this point in a Times of San Diego piece in February 2019.
The city is looking at a very lean period over the upcoming months, perhaps years, due to the loss of tourism, TOT taxes, and convention revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty over Proposition B, but it's critical the Capital Improvement Program B-17188 to rebuild Gold Coast Drive from Thanksgiving Lane to Camino Ruiz, and Parkdale Ave. from Mira Mesa Blvd. to Northrup Drive, be funded and moved forward as a priority in the 2021 budget. The decaying streets affect my neighbors' property values, even beyond the flying gravel, and puts extraordinary wear and tear on my neighbors' cars that can cost thousands of dollars a year to stay ahead of.
And it isn't just the residents. MTS buses use the otherwise narrow strip of Gold Coast throughout the day, and in normal times under non-pandemic conditions heavy San Diego Unified school buses deliver students to Salk Elementary on Parkdale, Mason Elementary at Good Coast and San Ramon, and Wangenheim Middle School via Gold Coast and Black Mountain Rd. throughout the school year.
To my earlier point, located as we are between I-15 and I-805, our neighborhood streets and arterials like Mira Mesa Blvd., Capricorn, Flanders, Bootes, and Gold Coast bear the brunt of the daily nine-to-five commuter traffic as workers head to and from tech centers like Sorrento Valley and western Mira Mesa (Sorrento Mesa). I would ask Mayor Faulconer and San Diego City Council, in this 11th hour ahead of the unveiling of the new fiscal year 2021 budget, that the proposal to rebuild Gold Coast Dr. and Parkdale Ave. be funded and enacted upon immediately, according to the plan for Capital Improvement Program B-17188.
I realize we're in the crosshairs of a long-term budget crisis, but hopefully we can address more streets in Mira Mesa and District 6 that need to rebuilt from the ground-up, not slathered over with another layer of asphalt that doesn't fix the underlying problem like Calle Dario, Jade Coast, Pegasus, Port Royale, Perseus, and others. I'm sure you know of some that could use more than a hug and some TLC. If you agree, do me a favor and let me know.
A San Diego County planning commissioner and former radio host at 91X and FM 94/9, Tommy Hough works as an environmental consultant with the ReWild Mission Bay campaign, and is a California Democratic Party delegate and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.