Commentary by Louis Rodolico
Bulldozers have broken ground for the new Fire Station 50, see illustration: prp50. The city still has to come up with the funding for a long ladder truck. According to the city’s consultant, Citygate, single engine fire stations cost about $12 million to build and $2.2 million a year to operate (2011 dollars), bringing todays century cost in at a quarter of a billion dollars per station. See cities consultant; Citygate Associates Link.
Many of us are just shaking our heads as to the chosen location for station 50. The Fire Department has openly testified that it is inefficient to put new stations next to uninhabited areas. However, Station 50 has a canyon to the south and an airport and dump to the east, it is not centrally located to optimize its effectiveness. Soon there will be three fire stations in North University-UTC; existing 35, now under construction 50 and proposed UCSD. Concentrating 3 fire stations in North University-UTC makes no sense.
The controversial location of Fire Station 50 was hatched via secret Ad-Hoc University Community Planning Group (UCPG) meetings. Ad-Hoc meetings are intended to be for something short term like a picnic, but UCPG chronically abuses the Ad-Hoc process. These secret Ad-Hoc meetings are; undocumented, a blatant violation of the Brown Act, non-compliant with planning group requirements, and completely out of public view.
The ultimate goal of UCPG here is to someday build a new fire station in Southwest UC at the extreme western terminus of Governor Drive at the intersection of Governor and Stresemann. See 2011 Citygate Associates Link. This proposed south UC station at Governor and Stresemann is a transparent ploy to use a fire station to block any attempt to build the Governor to Gillman connector. It has nothing to do with optimizing fire station locations to service the public. In order to make Governor/Stresemann station a logical choice UCPG needed the talking point that there is already a fire station in East UC, which gave us the station 50 location. The anti-democratic, secretive Ad-Hoc process pollutes the fire station location process. For the past decade UCPG has successfully manipulated its elections to prevent any East UC resident from getting on the planning group.
UC was built out by the 1970’s so for many decades South UC has received poor emergency response times, mainly because of Westfield Malls determination to herd all cars up Genesee and the foolish desire of Southwest UC residents to create a private enclave with no through roads. In the run-up to the 2016 Regents Road Bridge hearing a Fast Response Squad (FRS) was installed in Southwest UC to achieve additional political support. A tacit admission that the FRS or completed roads should have been there since the 1970’s.
Of the three major roads in South UC only Genesee Avenue has been completed, for this reason alone 50 should have been centrally located in South UC. Citygate analyzed the locations given to them. As you can see in the Citygate illustration the brown area shows how little additional coverage Station 50 provides since it is only 1 ½ miles from station 35. Privately first responders want all these roads built. However, in December 2016 Fire officials did not testify at the Regents Road Bridge council hearing like they did in 2006. Why not? 85% of all 911 calls are ambulance related. According to county data not completing UC roads results in 7 additional deaths a year due to extended ambulance travel times. The city will not release its ambulance service time data.
Westfield Mall wanted to shut down Regents Road funneling traffic up Genesee to their stores. With roots in UC, mall lobbyists loaded UCPG with residents who did not want the bridge. The mall paid a half million for the Regents Road Bridge EIR that excluded ambulance service times. See Link. Why should a foreign owned corporation like Westfield care that not building UC roads results in 7 additional deaths a year, or why should they care that the leading cause of death for first responders is the stress of getting to the victim? Westfield’s lobbyists drove a wedge through UC, pitting neighbor against neighbor. Westfield is clearly the puppet master, controlling our roads and city hall through its lobbyists. A detailed review of this topic was published in the April 2018 Clairemont Times page 11; “CEQA Judge Rules Not To Hear Arguments About Public Safety And The Regents Road Bridge” There is also a companion article in the Times of San Diego “Count the Ways San Diego Keeps The Public in the Dark”.
We also never built the bridge at La Jolla Scenic Drive and Route 52. When you add in the Regents Road Bridge and the Governor to Gillman connector that makes three uncompleted major roads in this area. What rational community does this to itself?
Hate continues to sprout in new places as unchallenged corporate greed drives its roots deeper into our culture. In the past decade, our average lifespan has dropped 2 years. Everyone is stressed with; more citizens slipping into poverty, most families losing ground, young adults with fewer options and the privileged apprehensive about when it will all be taken away.
Louis Rodolico has been a resident of University City since 2001, is running for District 1 City Council and has been a pro-bono community advocate for over 30 years.
2011 Citygate Report: Governor & Stresemann PDF Page 11, Operating Costs PDF Page 18
2017 Citygate Report: Illustrations pdf pages 46 & 47
University Fire Stations