Residents Upset Over Construction Setbacks in La Jolla Shores

A slew of setbacks to a construction project currently underway in La Jolla have left residents disgruntled and concerned that the work won’t be complete in time for the summer construction moratorium.

“No one had any idea that our lives would be this disrupted,” said Nicole Goedhart, a resident and landlord in Avenida de la Playa.

Avenida de la Playa is the main street through the business district of La Jolla Shores and is the site of the Avenida de la Playa Infrastructure project.

The project involves the replacement of a storm drain located at the end of Avenida de la Playa in an area where the street meets the beach, also known as The Boat Launch. The work will also include the repair of sewer and water pipes.

Goedhart told our media partner, La Jolla Light, although the city posted notices before the work began, she doesn’t think it did enough to warn residents about the impact the construction would have on the area.

“My first knowledge about the project was a door hanging early in the new year left by the city regarding the project, with just a generic description with contact information,” said Goedhart. “It wasn’t until Tim Lucas (La Jolla Shores Association chair) came to my door in March and talked to me in person, that I had any idea of the huge impact this project would directly have on me, my family and my tenants.”

Goedhart said construction closures in the area have made parking at her and her tenants garages an issue or impossible. She told the paper that city engineers advised her to look into parking alternatives for the duration of construction.

“I could have put up with all of this if someone had given us the courtesy of a heads-up,” Goedhart said. “All this could have been solved if we knew about this ahead of time and there wouldn’t be this panic situation.”

For Izzy Pihanyi, Co-Owner of Surf Diva which is also located on Avenida de la Playa, the situation caused by the project has been a bit easier, yet still troublesome.

“People have been very patient about it,” said Pihanyi referring to Surf Diva's students who she told to leave early whenever they had a class at the business.

Pihanyi said her issue with the project was the lack of notices she said the city agreed it would put up informing nearby visitors that businesses like hers were still open amid construction.

According to Pihanyi, she and other merchants met with the city about the notices while the construction was being planned, but she has yet to see any since it began.

“I don’t think any of us realized how impactful it would be. On paper, it made sense to get it all done, but when all the trucks are in such a small area it definitely has an impact… I don’t know what we expected,” Pihanyi added.

Troubles aside, Pihanyi did say she thought the construction crews in the area so far had been nice and were good about responding to their needs.

Along with the project's delays, loud noises are making the situation difficult for business says James Thorpe, a manager of Shore Thing Cafe .

Thorpe said the passing trucks are akin to a motorcycle passing and interrupting a conversation, but made worse by the fact that there’s a long line of them.

La Jolla Light reports the costly project is one month behind schedule, a delay caused in part by unexpected work.

One such instance was a recent job San Diego Gas and Electric had to complete.

The storm drain that is being replaced crosses the path of power and gas lines and so those lines needed to be relocated, according to SDG&E Communications Manager Hanan Eisenman.

Eisenman said SDG&E came in after it was determined the power and gas lines had to be removed and the company completed the work on April 22. He added that all of work was done in the public right-of-way and that SDG&E does not put up notices unless work is done on private property. The company did place “no parking” signs in the area to alert people of the work.

Monica Munoz, senior public information officer for San Diego Public Works, told La Jolla Light the city would do all it could to accelerate work after the SDG&E portion of the project was complete.

The city has directed the project’s contractor, HPS Mechanical, to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday to get the project back on track, according to LJSA officials.

“All agencies do their best to coordinate work schedules and efforts but until the street is dug up we don’t necessarily know what additional challenges we may encounter,” Munoz added.

According to the city's website, the project should be complete in summer 2014.

Though Thorpe’s assessment of the current situation wasn’t pleasant, he said, in the end, the project may be worth it for visitors to the area.

“A lot of people are traveling and to show up and there’s construction, it doesn’t bring you back. But, you could look at the bigger picture and it might bring them back,” Thorpe said.

For more on this story, head over to La Jolla Light.

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