Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future – lyrics from Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller (1976)

I sit deep in wonderment on where to begin, when low and behold one of those happy horn blowing engineers blast me back to the present.

What is taking so long to bring reasonable silence to our community? After years of complaints, City Council adopted an ordinance in January 2000 prohibiting the use of train whistles (they were whistles then) in Downtown during the evening hours, except in emergencies.

Local politicians quickly found it wasn’t as easy as just passing an ordinance. With pending legislation on a Final Rule on the Use of Locomotive Horns slowly traversing “the system”, they decided to wait on the outcome.

Shortly after the Final Rule was passed in June 2005, the Redevelopment Agency approved the Quiet Zone Conceptual Design with the condition G Street would be converted to one-way eastbound.

After years of receiving monthly quiet zone updates, my sources all but dried up. It appears all communication on this vital issue must come directly from CCDC’s President Nancy Graham, the self-proclaimed mayor of Downtown, and she is unresponsive to my requests for information.

After careful review of the last official update given nearly six months ago, here’s what I garner. The estimated cost of construction has increased from $3.58M to $18.46M in two short years. This is an estimate, not the “official” bid.

Once the Redevelopment Agency gives approval to bid the quiet zone improvements (hopefully October 16), it takes three months to award the contract and six months to receive the needed equipment. Then, the work begins.

When the improvements are completed, do train horns stop immediately? Or is there a waiting period for processing a quiet zone approval application? And, what’s this I hear, although whispered, about assessing residents?

I wonder…Will the future ever become the present?

On this issue, many residents stand as a united front looking ahead for resolution, hoping action will happen in the imminent future instead of the unspecified far-off future.

David Priver, CityFront Terrace, decries this project has dragged on long enough and appears to be going nowhere!! He believes it’s obvious the politicians and bureaucrats are not taking this issue seriously.

Another resident believes federal regulations for train operations are stopping the revitalization of our inner urban areas. “I suspect BNSF wants to leverage the situation to remove potential liability and costs.” Phil Heineman, Seven-on-Kettner

“ If I were a city official,” says Chris Cecot of Entrada, “I’d be doing whatever is required in order to get the quiet zone implemented. If they continue to drag their feet, it will just reflect poorly on their ability to govern.”

We have a short reprieve from the incessant blast that awake us from our slumber. In less than nine fleeting months, the Del Mar Bluff Stabilization Project will be complete, and once again the trains will loudly clamor through during the darkest hours.

Time keeps slippin’ into the future. -September 2007

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