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The good news: Kensington and Talmadge residents are pleased that Aldine Drive, the eastern access road to/from the Kensington community from Fairmount Avenue, was reopened to through-traffic on January 9. The road had been closed for the past six months for the construction of a retaining wall to prevent future slope failures and protect homes above.

The bad news: Once residents drove alongside the wall, they realized its potential as a huge graffiti canvass extending 375 feet and from 6 to 26 feet in height. Also, Aldine Drive has no streetlights, minimal late-night traffic, and no nearby homes — all factors that favor graffiti vandalism. Most frustrating to residents is that no anti-graffiti coating was applied to the wall.

Complaints to project engineer Michael Handal of the city’s Engineering and Streets Division were rebuffed. Handal said that no money had been allocated in the contract budget for anti-graffiti coating, so no coating would be applied. Residents feel that this is an unconscionable oversight, especially when the contract was completed under budget.

Residents voiced these concerns during the January 11 Kensington-Talmadge Planning Group meeting. Discussion focused on who was accountable for the oversight; could the City of San Diego or a state agency (Caltrans) apply anti-graffiti coating? And who would be responsible for removing graffiti?

David Moty, chair of the planning group, drafted a letter to address these problems and the board unanimously agreed. In addition to Michael Handal, local federal highway administrator Manuel Sánchez and Caltrans District 11 director Laurie Berman will be asked how the oversight occurred and how it can be corrected.

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