Commentary Louis Rodolico
An Emergency Vehicle, Bike and Pedestrian only version of the Regents Road Bridge was put on the May 8th University City Community Association (UCCA) Agenda. A member of the audience pointed out that this version of the Regents Road Bridge was not presented to city council when they voted not to build the bridge in 2016. This bridge version would serve ambulances as well as fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. It would also accommodate bikes and pedestrians. See Illustration. Personal vehicles would be restricted, except during a conflagration when the bike lanes would be utilized for vehicles exiting the community, keeping the emergency lane open.
The original design of the Regents Road Bridge was to consist of two parallel but separate spans. This proposal would be one of those two spans. Building a limited emergency vehicle bridge would dramatically improve ambulance service times south of the bridge. However, it would not reduce traffic volume on Genesee so this proposal would have little value for the eastern half of UC. At the meeting UCCA did not vote for or against an emergency only bridge, but approved a diplomatically correct guarded response.
The Friends of Rose Canyon (FORC) president Debbie Knight spoke out against an emergency vehicle bridge claiming that city council has already decided not to build the bridge in 2016 so: “The Regents Road Bridge Issue Is Closed”. However, in 2006 when city council voted to build the bridge FORC sued the city to try and overturn council’s vote, which exposes Knight’s hypocrisy. In 2006 Westfield Mall did not get signatures to get it on the ballot since most residents want the full bridge. Instead Westfield Mall paid half a million for a new EIR that did not include ambulance service data. That incomplete EIR was put before council in 2016 when council reversed their 2006 decision. Councils overturn the decisions of their predecessors all the time. So it is hypocritical to say that once city council votes on something that’s the final word. A future council could reverse once again and vote to build the bridge. For example: 15 years ago the Murphy administration considered companion units to be undesirable low income housing, but city council recently reversed that thinking and companion units are all the rage today.
Based on surveys, most residents want the full four lane Regents Road Bridge. They ask; should taxpayers bear the cost of this emergency only bridge if it does not allow vehicular traffic? Most residents in North Clairemont, Bay Ho, West and Central UC will accept a bridge of any description; they know all too well how extended ambulance service times have impacted their families and their community. They are left hoping that politicians will uphold their oaths and the city comes to its senses. But they will have to fight self-centered residents along Rose Canyon who do not want roads in their neighborhood much like parents who do not want to vaccinate their own children. Putting all of us at higher risk. They will also need to fight the Friends of Rose Canyon, which is the most influential registered lobbying firm in the region. Always ready to sue The Friends of Rose Canyon has elevated Rose Canyon to a deity making it a sacrilege to place anything in the canyon regardless of the health and safety benefits to the community.
Some background: In May of 2008 UCPG rejected Westfield’s Expansion. Seeing an opening FORC meets later that year with Westfield Mall. Under the guise of a lawsuit they keep their discussions confidential, an end run around the Brown Act and lobbying recording requirements. With its deep pockets Westfield pays half a million dollars for an EIR that somehow does not contain ambulance service times with or without the bridge. FORC whips votes and gets control of UCPG board membership. Westfield’s expansion goes forward. The 35 million dollars of Development Impact Fees (DIF), that were collected for the bridge, must now be returned to developers, Westfield should see 10 to 20 million. The FORC claim that they are not a lobbyist for Westfield is a distinction without a difference.
Westfield Mall, FORC, Politicians and even the Judiciary show no interest in putting the bridge on the ballot, providing another warning of how fast our democracy is falling to big money.
The 2016 bridge costs were inflated by engineers to make the bridge less desirable to council. The city needs a disinterested third party verifying all project costs. Recently Pure Water lowballed its costs to get council approval.
The Fast Response Squad is not an ambulance and cannot transport critical patients to the hospital. The city will not release its ambulance service data but based on county data not having the Regents Road Bridge results in 7 residents not making it to the emergency room in time for responders to save their lives. Residents who have seen this first hand have openly asked FORC, Westfield Mall and their confederates how they could they be so heartless. The answer is money. Westfield Mall is looking at a big DIF refund and wants all traffic funneled up Genesee to their stores. Since 2004 FORC has found a profitable fund raising model that finances the salary (currently $60,000) of its president. See FORC tax link. Whipping up resident infighting keeps the spotlight off; politicians the mall and FORC.
UCCA attempted to draw attention to public safety. However, anti-bridge advocates want any discussion of a bridge closed, along with 7 additional caskets each year.
Louis Rodolico has been a resident of University City since 2001 and is a candidate for District 1 City Council.
FORC Meets Privately With Westfield
Westfield Half Million EIR
FORC Registered Lobbyists Link
FORC Tax Link