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The Mayor’s Corner

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Posted: Friday, October 25, 2019 4:18 pm

On Wednesday morning, Imperial Beach Firefighters joined their counterparts in Coronado on Highway 75 near the entrance to Silver Strand State Beach to respond to a multi-car crash. I had traveled up the Strand just before the crash occurred and commented to myself once again how fast people were driving. In the summer, Emily and I were walking on the bayfront of Silver Strand State Beach (it is one of our favorite local walks) and witnessed a multi-car crash on Highway 75 as a result of dangerous driving. At times the morning commute northward to Coronado seems like a Formula One race with drivers swerving in and out of traffic and what seems to be a disdain for the posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour. Personally, I prefer to stay well under the speed limit. I have no interest in paying higher auto insurance rates as a result of traffic fines.

I probably hear more about dangerous driving in Imperial Beach than any other topic. That is the main reason why over the past 10 years the City of Imperial Beach has improved road safety in many of our neighborhoods including Old Palm Avenue, 13th Street, and especially on Elm Avenue around Mar Vista High and Imperial Beach Charter Schools. That is also why, thanks to state grants and funding from SANDAG, we are working to improve the safety of Imperial Beach Boulevard. On that roadway, engineers have attempted to balance safety with traffic flow. That is because the most effective way to reduce car crashes and pedestrian fatalities and injuries is to improve road design and safety. Car crashes and especially pedestrian injuries and fatalities are way up in California and across the country. There are way too many distracted speeding drivers these days. So when you are driving around town, slow down, stay off of your mobile device, and make sure you are aware of the thousands of children who make their way to school bicycling and walking each day. Our children are our most precious resource, and we need to do everything possible to keep them safe and healthy.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Los Cabos Mayor Armida Castro this week in Imperial Beach. She was in town for a joint meeting of the Tijuana Estuary Estuarine National Research Reserve, the City of Imperial Beach and the city of Los Cabos to discuss our Sister Estuaries. The San Jose Estuary which is located on the beach in San Jose del Cabo (Los Cabos is a city that combines San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas). Unfortunately, just like the Tijuana Estuary, the San Jose Estuary is heavily impacted by sewage, illegal development (in our case the illegal development happens in Tijuana), trash and the flow of sediment that is slowly choking it. The more that we can engage with Mexican officials at all levels to encourage everyone to take on the responsibility of proactively protecting our coastline, the more we can work to push the Mexican government to accelerate efforts to fix Tijuana’s aging and now collapsing water and sewage infrastructure.

Avoiding what has happened to Tijuana, with its collapsing water and wastewater system (just this week over 14 million gallons of wastewater was discharged into the Tijuana River) is why Cal-American Water is currently ripping up the Palm Avenue corridor to replace water pipes that in some cases are over 100 years old. Preventing the future collapse of our water and wastewater system requires us to tear up streets, replace old pipes, and obviously disrupt traffic. While it is unfortunate that road and water system upgrade projects are happening at the same time, I am grateful that Imperial Beach places a priority on investing in our infrastructure.

The case of cross-border pollution is an example of how officials on both sides of the border ignored the need to build infrastructure to treat Tijuana’s sewage and capture that city’s stormwater and sewage flows until it was too late. However, with our current all-of-the-above strategy, we are pushing U.S. and Mexican officials to invest in a new sewage and water re-use system in Tijuana as well as sewage diversion infrastructure in the U.S. And having Imperial Beach as a role model for infrastructure investment, as well as community safety and environmental management, only makes it easier to make our case that no city is exempt from having to invest in a clean and healthy future.

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