Issues around water quality and regulation continue to worsen here in Escondido. Please review this important information regarding Escondido Mayor Sam Abed’s violation of the stormwater permits Escondido 2014.
This is serious and is very troubling for the region. Please watch the video clip at the end which includes the comments of Mayor Abed and then Deputy Mayor Marie Waldron (now in the Assembly) about their views on the stormwater permit and regulation. This a key reason we have lost confidence in the city’s ability to achieve compliance with stormwater regulations. We thank the Regional Board for their diligent action in investigating this issue
This information has major ramifications on the water quality goals of Escondido Neighbors United.
1. We learned late last week that the Oak Creek developers have changed their project to locate even more homes on to sensitive lands next to Felicita Creek. We have raised repeated concerns about how stormwater is planned for that project. More homes closer to the creek means more hardening and more runoff potential. Now, those impacts will be even worse. In our comments on the DEIR, we raised several concerns about the future enforcement of standards. The environmental review of that project stated repeatedly that impacts would not occur from the project because there would be compliance with the stormwater regulations. We are not so sure.
2. Now we learn that Mayor Sam Abed, the leader of the city, has failed to comply with stormwater quality laws and is currently subject to an on-going investigation by the Water Quality Control Board regarding his paving is property at 540 W. Grand Ave. This evidence of his lack of commitment to our important water quality and environmental laws should be of concern to everyone in our region. The Mayor’s disregard of regulations has financial impacts as well– creating unfair competition and costs all of us, the city, the state, additional money to bring him into compliance.
3. The source of the violations is clear in Mayor Abed’s comments about his lack of respect and commitment to stormwater regulations when he offered his opinions in January, 2011 in excerpt–: For me, I’ve seen this several times. It’s another mandate…the EPA has a history of over regulation….there is no question of the over-regulation in this…” …the most cost effective way is mother nature, that will take care of it without regulation without paperwork…” (emphasis added)
There are many troubling aspects to these statements. Since Mayor Abed is in a position of leadership, he has a responsibility to learn how the environment actually works. The reason Mother Nature can’t ‘take care of it’ herself is that we are constantly paving it over—hardening the surface with parking lots and development causing pollution and runoff to flow off the sites which in turn erodes our creeks and degrades our water quality. Because of this, we all pay the price of polluted water, stream erosion, and flooding. If the EPA had been over-regulating, we would have clean water now! The reason the stormwater permit continues to get more stringent is that we are under-regulating and, in this case, under-complying.
This has only heightened our significant concerns about the runoff issues in Escondido. As it, now stands we cannot rely on the city to secure and ensure compliance with the stormwater rules for new development. There are many such developments proposed for Escondido, such as at Oak Creek, Amanda Estates, Safari Highlands Ranch, and others that will need very strong implementation of stormwater requirements or our environment and water quality will suffer.
Mayor Abed does not seem to understand the critical role the stormwater pollution permit has in cleaning up our local waters. That he, himself, does not comply is a significant problem and sends a troubling message about his commitment to environmental protection rules.
We urge the Mayor to take the time to get educated on water quality and environmental issues– and comply with them– so that we can all have more confidence in the actions of the city he leads as we face more and more development threats to our water quality in the region.
As for the regulators, we actually agree with Ms. Waldron who speaks at the end of the video clip, the Water Board is government at its finest, we appreciate the Water Board’s firm hand and diligence in upholding and defending our water quality regulations. We urge the Water Board to continue to ensure compliance at this site. We will have additional recommendations soon about future actions the Board should take to ensure full-compliance in Escondido.