San Ysidro Sidewalk Project Stalls (Again)

Students negotiate a dirt path with a steep canyon on one side and traffic on the other

Just about three feet outside a Pardee homes development in San Ysidro called "Ocean View Hills," the sidewalk abruptly ends.

A dirt path winds its way up about three-fourths of a mile to the top of Otay Mesa Road. This is the path San Ysidro High School students walk to get to school.

Each day, students negotiate the skinny dirt path that's next to a steep canyon on one side, as cars whiz by them on the other. Some portions of the path are protected by a guardrail, but for much of it, there's nothing to separate oncoming traffic from young pedestrians walking to school.

Funding to fix the dangerous stretch of road was secured in 2013, according to city officials, but that funding has now hit a snag with the delay of the Otay Mesa Community Plan Update. 

The project depends on money that will only be available once a facilities financing plan is passed along with the plan update, according to Councilman David Alvarez's office, who represents that district.

This is not the first delay. Community members have been promised a sidewalk for kids since 2002.

San Ysidro High School Principal Hector Espinoza has been raising concerns about the dangerous conditions of the road since before the high school was built.

Emails to Espinoza from state Senator Ben Hueso, then a council member, say 'considerable progress' had been made, but "government does move slowly."

That was 2007.

"I hate to say this, but somebody is going to get hurt and then the officials and then the people who are willing to do it or able to do it will actually move," Espinoza said. "I hope it doesn't come to that."

Voice of San Diego Senior Reporter Liam Dillon said it's difficult to understand exactly how serious the situation is for kids without seeing it.

"You know, you go down there and it's an outrageous situation. Every single day, hundreds of kids having to walk a half mile with no sidewalk, -- either fall into a canyon, or get hit by a car," Dillon said. " I mean, the risks are very apparent to anyone who visits."

For student Nicolax Mauro, who walks to San Ysidro High, the dangers are apparent on a daily basis.

"It's all dirt and sometimes I kinda slip off and I kinda feel like I'll fall in," Mauro said. "They're supposed to care about our safety  .. you know ... and it's really dangerous to be walking without a sidewalk or skateboarding without a sidewalk." 

Sweetwater school officials have taken action, to make the situation safer for kids. The district provides free school bus passes to students who would otherwise have to walk that path.

Today, a San Diego city spokesman said the project has been delayed further, and that construction could start next fall. He promises the project is "not forgotten." 

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