Navajo Community Planners, Inc., on May 19 voted unanimously to support the installation of a barrier north of the intersection of Cowles Mountain Boulevard and Rainswept Way. The Cottages condominium complex is accessed from Rainswept, and homeowners requested a barrier to block vehicular access to the area where the boulevard ends.
The dead end has been the site of activities including "dumping large items" and underage drinking, said Ryley Webb of District 7 councilman Scott Sherman's office. Police spent 100 hours responding to calls there last year, and Webb said those endorsing the barricade include the association and the police and fire departments.
The community-planning group left the decision about the type of barrier up to the City of San Diego and the Cottages homeowners’ association. A chain-link fence with a moveable gate would cost $3980, and a barricade is priced at $5580, Webb said. Planners also recommended that the city ask the association to pay part of the cost.
Some land near the dead end belongs to the Cottages. Mission Trails Regional Park is on the other side of the dead-end barrier where a sign warns "No Littering, No Dumping, $1000 Fine."
Before the vote, resident Brett Weiss spoke about "living over the dead end." Debris includes used condoms, and she said "we called HAZMAT to remove" a leaking automobile engine.
Weiss said it was frightening to "see kids on utility boxes throwing roaches and lit matches." Furthermore, she saw "two vehicles with four individuals vomiting out of each one. I guess [the cause] was alcohol, based on the bottles."
"Tonight was a huge victory," Weiss said in an interview. She moved to the Cottages in 1991 and showed me pictures and correspondence that included a May 8, 2007, letter to then-councilman Jim Madaffer.
In that letter, Cottages assistant manager Ronald Ficalora Jr. described activities such as dumping refrigerators and "sex in cars with doors open, beside cars, on top of cars." Ficalora sent pictures that included photos of a drug bust and a city sign declaring "Road Ends 500 Feet." (Weiss said the sign was installed as a remedy to dead-end problems.)
Ficalora asked on behalf of the association for a barricade; the request was denied the following month. Traffic engineer Julio Fuentes wrote that the fire department and San Diego Gas & Electric needed the street open. Instead, the city would "trim vegetation blocking the 'END' and 'No Dumping' signs."
Weiss continued to track activity. Last November, she woke on a Saturday morning to see a dumped mattress. Another time, someone left a couch. On it were bags containing papers with personal information. She went to the address on the papers and discovered the couch owner was evicted. There were more belongings in the yard. After Weiss contacted the landlord, those belongings were dumped at the dead end.
A visit last year from police community-relations officer Holland Tafoya led residents to contact John Pilch, then–San Carlos Area Council president.
"I feel tremendous appreciation for" Pilch's efforts, and those of others including Webb and the Navajo Planners, she said.