City to Replace ‘Wall of Trouble'

State money found for So. Mission Hills project

After years of complaints from neighborhood homeowners, a damaged retaining wall that holds up part of a street in South Mission Hills is due to be replaced.

It runs 146 feet along the 3500 block of Bear Drive, east of Dove Court, dropping down more than eight feet to the steeply sloped back yard of a home that fronts on Otsego Drive to the east.

That section of curb was painted red and cordoned off with orange plastic safety tubes about a year ago, to keep people from parking there, or driving by too closely.

About a dozen homeowners who have been lobbying for help from city engineers say the decades-old wall is fast eroding.

"Based on the natural topography, there's going to be a water situation in that area," says Michael Gardiner, an attorney who owns a Bear Drive home just north of the retaining wall.

"Almost unanimously, people in the neighborhood were concerned that in an El Nino year, there would be problems," Gardiner added in an interview Monday. "In subsequent years, there could be problems, and some of those problems could be pretty serious."

A spokesman for City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, whose 2nd District encompasses the neighbor, said an internal city routing slip aimed at putting the issue on a fast track toward a solution was lost for several months last year due to a computer glitch.

Since then, city officials have reported finding a solution in the form of a $250,000 allocation from the state's Proposition 42 road improvement funds, comprising sales taxes on gasoline purchases.

Otherwise, there might have been no relief on the near horizon from San Diego's cash-strapped treasury.

"Absolutely good news," said Gardiner. "It's good news that the city is doing what the city ought to be doing."

The project, which includes shoring up the compromised section of Bear Drive as well as replacing the wall, will be reviewed Wednesday by the City Council's Land Use & Housing Committee.

Full Council approval is expected in about two weeks, followed by a few weeks of finalizing design plans before the project is put out to bid.

It could take months to complete, depending on the weather.

"(The remedial construction) is going to be a daily impingement on our lives," Gardiner said, referring to Bear Drive's narrow dimensions and lack of sidewalks.

"I suspect (repair crews) are going to be looking in our bedroom window. Nonetheless, it's something that has to happen. And as a wise man once said, you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs."

Gardiner predicts more such 'omelettes' will be needed in the future.

"If it's not done on a periodic basis," he said, "the problem is going to get to the catastrophic standpoint where it fails."

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