‘Unacceptable:' City Leader on Missing Staffers Days Before Storm

“I have never seen this before," said City Councilmember David Alvarez. "We need to have someone here.”

Days before a powerful storm is scheduled to arrive in San Diego, a council committee's attempt to check in on the City's readiness was stalled when no one from the department handling the preparations attended the meeting. 

City Councilman David Alvarez said he's prepared to legally summon city staff members to attend the next city environment committee meeting after, he said, they refused to show up Thursday.

Days before a storm was expected to hit San Diego, Alvarez said he needed to question staffers about the city’s storm water preparedness. The meeting’s agenda showed there was an item regarding a status report on the city’s situation, but only a representative from the Mayor’s office was present to discuss it.

“When a committee puts an item on the agenda, it is the expectation that staff will be here to answer questions from committee members from the council,” said Alvarez. “I have never seen this before. We need to have someone here.”

NBC 7 spoke over the phone with Kris McFadden, the director of San Diego’s Transportation and Storm Water Department. He explained why he nor a member of his staff were not at the meeting.

“We got a storm that's about 36 hours out that we're preparing for and we don’t want to keep those crews from discontinuing that really good work,” McFadden said. “Because we really are gearing up for this El Nino. We've being doing unprecedented work on our channels and throughout the city and seeing a lot of results.”

Alvarez told NBC 7 the situation of staffers not showing up when their item is on an agenda is very unusual, even unprecedented.

Alvarez doesn’t want to see another situation like the one that happened in San Carlos earlier this month. When the storm hit, it created violent storm waters that damaged at least eight homes in the area. A storm water drain busted, and residents blamed the damage on the city.

When asked if San Diego is ready for this weekend’s expected storm, McFadden said the city was prepared.

Alvarez maintains he, other committee members and the public needed to hear that at the public meeting. He said he’s prepared to go through the courts to summon the missing staff members, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer, to the next committee meeting in February.

McFadden said he feels that’s unnecessary because he and his team plan to be there.

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