San Diego

The Hole Story: San Diegans Footing Bill for Pothole Damages

NBC 7 Responds digs deep into San Diego's pothole payouts

Lon Ballard was driving his three-wheel electric motorcycle on Mira Mesa Boulevard in San Diego when he saw a large pothole in the middle of the right lane. It was too late. His right front wheel landed in the pothole. The impact forced him to pull over on the side of the road.

The wheel and electric motor attached to it were bent. Lon said the size of the pothole and the placement concerned him.

“The pothole was about eight inches deep by eight inches wide and about two feet long,” Ballard told NBC 7 Responds during a May interview. “I called 911 because it was right in the middle of the intersection and very dangerous. I was afraid that somebody on a motorcycle or bicycle would be turning at that intersection and it would just throw them right off.”

Ballard said he returned to the intersection the following week and noticed the hole had been filled.

He estimated the damage from the collision to be more than $600, not to mention his time installing the new wheel and hub motor.

In late March 2018, Ballard filed a claim with the city of San Diego’s Risk Management Department in hopes of getting reimbursed for the damage. The city has 45-days to respond to the claim for damages.

But Ballard is not the only driver in San Diego whose cars were damaged after hitting potholes, nor is he the only person to complain about San Diego’s crumbling roads.

During the past several years, public officials in San Diego have attempted to address those concerns. According to a 2016 study conducted by the city, only 60 percent of San Diego’s roads were considered to be in “good condition.”

And during that same year, road crews filled approximately 33,000 potholes.

In fact, 2017 wasn’t much better.

NBC 7 Responds submitted a Public Records Request to the city and found that last year the city of San Diego paid more than $250,000 to 540 drivers whose vehicles were damaged after hitting potholes throughout the city.

The payouts from the city ranged from $69 dollars to as much as $4,000.

“This is dangerous and they need to get these fixed because it does a lot of damage,” Ballard said during his interview. “It’s not only cars but motorcycles and bicycles ... and big potholes could be deadly.”

A spokesperson for the city told NBC 7 Responds that drivers whose cars have been damaged can log on to the city’s Risk Management Department for information on how to file a claim.

As for the city’s efforts in addressing pockmarked streets in San Diego, the spokesperson told NBC 7 Responds that the “City has been working at a record pace to repair road throughout the city. 

“Earlier this year we reached 800 miles of roads that were paved within the last three years. The goal is to reach 1,000 miles over five years which we are on pace to surpass much sooner."

Contact Us