July 11, 2000

Lakeside: eat my dust

Ameron Pipe Company of Lakeside says eat my concrete dust. Why do they and other industrial companies in Lakeside not care about the residents of our town?

The Pipe Company is located up-wind of El Captain High School; the school has a population of 2,300 students and 120 faculty members. The prevailing wind historically blows towards the School. We all live in a bowl called Lakeside and the dust hangs in the bowl. Wonder why you canít keep your cars clean in Lakeside? We donít even need to be close to Ameron Pipe to be effected by it. This is only one source of dust pollution in Lakeside, there are many others.

The Pipe Company has at least two shifts working, and produces very large concrete water pipes. During the pipe manufacturing operation the plant produces clouds of concrete dust that have at times been large enough to block out the sight of their very own manufacturing building. Other times the dust plumes is produced by the fork lifts driving back and forth while handling the pipe and is carried upwards of 100í in the air. This dust is from cement that is composed of lime and silica, which are both known to be very bad for the lungs.

El Captain High School officials have complained about the dust problems over the last 5 years that the pipe company has been in operation. No action on the part of the county of San Diego Air Quality Control Board to stop the dust by Ameron Pipe has been taken. Today the Ameron Pipe Company is still producing very large clouds of dust.

El Capitan has many activities before, during, and after school such as Track and Field, Baseball, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Basketball, Football, Water Polo, Gym Classes, Marching Band, PE, etc. It is during these times that our children are breathing particularly large amounts of this dust. We think our children are in a safe environment all day, but they are coming home with asthma and other breathing conditions. After conversations with the San Diego County Air Pollution Control Board we were told that Ameron Pipe was in compliance with their zoning and that they were entitled to have dust. Our children are entitled to a safe environment. Air Quality - all of us breathe the air in the Lakeside Basin. Most of the kids never leave Lakeside, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

We, the community of Lakeside, have a problem with the County of San Diego wanting to put in 596 acres or more of industrial zoning in Lakeside in the area called USDRIP. This area is along the San Diego River between the Rodeo Grounds near El Captain High and west to Santee. The final plan for this area will be addressed at the San Diego Board of Supervisors meeting on August 9th at 1600 Pacific Coast Highway at 9:00 am. This is the last hearing to determine the zoning of this area.

For years the general plan was to have a River Park along the San Diego River in Lakeside. People bought houses along the River because the developers promised that once the sand mining was done the parks would go in. At that time it was also the County of San Diegoís plan that the land would be turned into a river park. But now if the County of San Diego and the Sand Miners, who own the property, have their way the River Park wonít be built. They will develop storage yards and more factories like Ameron Pipe.

To date, approximately 7000 people have signed a petition asking for a River Park called "Lakeside, A River Runs Through It". These are people who would like to see less industrial zoning and much more river park. Just a hand full of people have collected the petitions, as it is an easy sell. These are people who are concerned about things like visual blight, water contamination, and down stream pollution. We all know someone who swims and plays in the Ocean. The water that Lakeside drinks is from wells that the water district pumps to our homes and schools. These water wells are in the same areas that are impacted by the continual truck washing, back filling with untested materials after sand mining, storage of barrels of unknown chemicals, and many other leaking tanker trucks and equipment storage. Do you know anyone with an environmentally caused cancer that lives in this area? Makes you wonder.

A visual blight is what Lakeside residents will contend with once the River valley is zoned industrial. This will effect property values in the area. Blame it on the county.

Already we have the hundreds of semi trucks that work out of this river valley and are getting pressured washed weekly with harsh detergents and degreasers and this water flows into the San Diego River and then on to the Pacific Ocean. This goes on at every other trucking company through out Lakeside. Does any one wonder why the water is polluted down stream?

The County says that they donít have enough staff to be proactive in looking for violators on issues like zoning and polluters. They rely on the residents to complain. We complain and then they donít have the staff to follow through. The whole problem with the county of San Diego is that they take the tax money but they donít use any of it to protect us, the people that live in the community that they are supposed to represent. The County Board of Supervisors every decision impacts our neighborhood.

Another issue is the sand miners and the back filling with untested materials directly into the San Diego River ground water. The Fish and Game department is currently investigating one of the sand mining operations at this time. The same water that we drink. The water districts in the area pump this ground water for drinking and it comes piped to our houses and schools. We say stop all backfilling of the sand mining pits that are dug into the San Diego River, unless you test every truckload for contamination before it is dumped. There are 70,000-acre feet of water under this aquifer that we could use for an emergency drinking water reserve for the City of San Diego.

The Lakeside Water District tests their water once a year and only for limited amounts of contaminants. It took years for them to find out about MTBE, the gasoline additive that is so detrimental. Once the River View Water District knew to look for MTBE, they actually found it in the water. So far the Lakeside Water District is fine and drinkable. But by only testing once a year, they could be pumping 364 days of contaminated water before they realize that a well has a problem.

What we could see for the Sand Diego River is a trail system that would join Ocean Beach to the desert. This trail would be for bikers that could ride the east west passage to work. We could also have a trail system for horses, mountain bikes, runners, hikers, walkers, and places to fly kites and have family picnics. Just think about a 26-mile marathon race from Ocean Beach to Lakeside. Why not a swim, run, bike race that would be one big loop.

How about the same type of storefronts that Veijas Indians have with the river theme running through the shops. How about some River front restaurants? These are the things that we would consider smart growth. We believe that Lakeside has a future as long as the industrial zoning is placed somewhere other than on top of our Precious River.

An informational web site is: http://lakesidetrails.tripod.com

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