San Diego

Suit Against City is Last Straw in Mission Beach Noise Complaint Saga: Attorney

“They don’t care as long as the money keeps flowing,” resident Martin Zimmerman said

A South Mission Beach resident, with support from her neighborhood, said that the City of San Diego has ignored pleas to fix a loud, faulty utility box cover.

“The noise is as follows: BOOM BOOM. It is very loud. It sounds like a ‘gunshot,’” the lawsuit said.

NBC 7 spoke to Terry Curley, a resident of 15 years, who said an AT&T utility street cover makes a loud crashing noise every time a car drives over it. In fact the noise happens twice for each set of wheels.

The plaintiff is Eleanor Wilson, but she’s representing an entire community who feel their pleas are not being heard. The group of long-time Mission Beach residents has sent letters, made phone calls, and prepared meetings, but they said the city has done nothing to help them since November 2018.

“They don’t care as long as the money keeps flowing,” resident Martin Zimmerman said. “It’s ridiculous that the city would take such little action or interest in a place like this that generates so much income every summer.”

Neighbors centered around Bayside Lane and Avalon Court have submitted FixIt requests on the city’s app, sent numerous letters to their City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, and finally filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction for the city to fix it.

Wilson hired an attorney who also happens to be a South Mission Beach resident, Bob Ottilie, to help solve the problem.

Ottilie reached out to the District 2 Council Office six times, each time by mail and email. To avoid filing this lawsuit, Ottilie also contacted the City Attorney's Office repeatedly, he said.

“The tourists that come here are bothered by it, the locals are bothered by it, and it’s going on, what, three years?” Zimmerman told NBC 7.

Zimmerman said he took the problem into his hands and put bolts into several other boxes that were unsecured.

“I don’t think I should be the one to put bolts into all these boxes, if I could not do that it’d be great, but if I have to,” Zimmerman added.

Jim Nabong from the City of San Diego told residents it would be resolved by October, but then failed to appear at a follow-up meeting, the press release said. The City Attorney then told Wilson's representative in mid-October 2019 that the problem would be resolved in two months, but that was two months after Nabong said the same thing in August.

Lawyer Ottilie said he was stunned by the City's response.

"I have been working with the city for 40 years, and often as a member of City Commissions or Boards, and I have never seen folks ignored as they have been in this case," he said, adding the lawsuit was a last resort. “I cannot recall in my career ever filing a lawsuit in a situation where the underlying problem could have been more easily resolved. I can't figure this one out."

Plaintiff Wilson said she hopes the court will provide the neighborhood the relief that has not been forthcoming from the city.

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