This is a follow-up story to my learned colleague Gordon Clanton’s letter titled “Monsters at the Beach.” At the April 11, 2013 Torrey Pines Community Planning Board (TPCPB) meeting, the closure of Los Penasquitos lagoon mouth and the creation of a vast mosquito breeding ground was discussed. Both the City of San Diego and the San Diego County representatives to our board clearly understood the health emergency issue and the need for immediate action.
Foolishly, we thought that a health issue would prompt quick action. It was not to be so! I am not implying that good people did not try but rather bureaucratic red tape snarled the process to a snail’s pace.
The California State Parks and the Los Penaquitos Lagoon Foundation have worked in a high level of coordination and cooperation over the last 15 seasons to clear the lagoon mouth of sand each spring. Maintenance dredging to maintain tidal flows is expensive, costing greater than $100,000 per year, and is typically done in late April to early June. The issue this year was the State “had no funds” and the Foundation could not raise enough. Therefore, the City of San Diego had to request State permits and fund the project. This process took six months and was not completed in a timely manner to prevent the plague of mosquitoes. I asked if a small group of concerned residents happen to take shovel in hand and dug a trench would this be OK. The answer was “No, you will be arrested, and you do not have a permit.”
Again, this issue was addressed at the May TPCPB meeting, the County Vector Control Director answered questions about the short-term strategy to control the mosquitoes. To our surprise, we learned about larvicide being sprayed to reduce future mosquito outbreaks. This process is birth control for mosquitoes and is about 50 percent effective. We asked about just spraying an insecticide to eradicate them. Yes, this could be done if a lot of people got West Nile Virus and some folks died. Say what!
Finally, the lagoon mouth was opened but closed within two days. This process was again delayed by the State not granting immediate permits to complete the task due to (drum roll please), the grunion run over the next week.
Our local officials tried but could not cut through the red tape. The City of Del Mar had a similar need to clear the San Dieguito Lagoon mouth but encountered no problems with the process.
Small government run by the people for the people works best.
Dennis Ridz, chair, Torrey Pines Community Planning Board