There is now even more evidence why the community can not trust Escondido to comply with or enforce environmental laws.
Last week, on February 10, 2015, the City of Escondido received a Notice of Violation (NOV) for violations of municipal storm water permit requirements. Water Board Cover Letter
The violations include:
- Failure to prevent the discharge of pollutants per permit requirements,
- Failure to implement the adopted storm water mitigation plan
- Failure to adequately enforce permit standards at priority development sites.
The 4-page NOV notice cites multiple examples of these failures. The city has failed to fix known problems for years. In six of seven priority development projects inspected BMPs have been found to be ineffective and/or inadequately maintained. In some cases the City has allowed priority development projects (PDP) to be completed with missing permanent treatment BMPs for prolonged periods of time. In one case 19 inlet filters were to be installed in 2009 but most were not installed until November 2014. The NOV also cites the inquiry involving the 540 W. Grand parking lot, in this category–the parking lot owned by Escondido Mayor Abed. We have previously raised concerns about this here, Mayor Failed to Comply.
Violations include BMPs that were designed or installed incorrectly, failure to inspect at proper times, ineffective vegetative BMPs, missing storm drain insert filters, sediment overwhelming BMPs, lack of required maintenance, and many other issues. Even when problems were found, the NOV notes, “The City identified 9 PDPs that had structural BMP violations, but the City issued 0 enforcement actions” These finally lead the Water Board to the conclusions that the “The City’s overall program is not adequate to ensure proper functioning of the treatment control BMPs…” The violations are summarized here Notice of Violation To Escondido and the Water Board Audit Report provide more detail and photos of the violations.
Specific examples include one case where there was supposed to be a bioswale that would slow water and allow it to seep into the ground,…
“A concrete v-ditch was found where the bioswale should have been…There were no treatment control BMPs within the v-ditch or at the inlet or outlet of the v-ditch.”
Concrete does nothing to slow or treat storm water and only worsens erosion, flooding, and water quality. These kinds of problems are exactly the kind of violations and failure to enforce that, in our case, puts downstream neighbors at risk relative to Oak Creek. In other examples, problems noticed by the staff in 2011/2012 were the same deficiencies with the same BMPs found in 2014. It appears that, even when the city found violations, little was done and no enforcement was taken.
Here is the mystery. The NOV states, “While the City seems to be able to identify issues in need of correction, the City lacks an effective enforcement process to resolve the deficiencies and bring the facilities back into compliance with Order No. R9-2007-0001.” This should be looked into. Why is the City not enforcing the storm water rules? Who or what is stopping them? Is this a problem of staff follow-up or is it a failure of the Executive or Mayor and Council to direct? Or, is it the result of direction being given from some quarter to not enforce?
This is more of the mounting evidence regarding why Escondido Neighbors United has major concerns about the ability, or willingness, of the city to enforce the storm water regulations related to the Oak Creek housing project. We have been told time and time again that we should be satisfied and that there will be no impacts because the project will comply with regulations. This has not happened in 6 of 7 examples in Escondido. Why should we have confidence it would happen at Oak Creek?
These City violations, coupled with eight ‘significant’ violations issued to New Urban West in 2002 of its dewatering permit during construction of Brookside (2002 Report of NPDES Violations ) leave us with no confidence that the rules will be complied with or that our water quality and our local creek will be protected.
It is yet another reason that we cannot support the Oak Creek housing development in the density proposed with its heavy reliance on storm water mitigation and controls. Apparently, compliance with the rules is not the standard in Escondido and we would be foolish to rely on it.
The obvious question is, does Escondido even deserve the ability to annex more property when they can’t handle the property they already have?