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"I have found case law that establishes Caltrans liable for the contamination," writes Salvatore D'Anna in an email. D'Anna believes the discovery will put the brakes on Lemon Grove's plans to realign Lemon Grove Avenue and prevent the City from acquiring two large properties through eminent domain, one of which is D'Anna's office.

The City encountered a speed bump when high levels of arsenic were found on one of the properties, a self-storage center on North Avenue. According to D'Anna, the City blamed the contamination on a lumberyard that operated on the site from 1928 to 1959, and he is convinced that the City has used the presence of contamination to negotiate a better deal with the property owner, since the polluted property requires environmental remediation.

And while D'Anna believes there is contamination and agrees it most likely came from the lumberyard, he says the City is withholding the fact that Caltrans was the previous owner of the tainted land, and Caltrans spread the arsenic by grading the area before selling it to the current owners.

In February, D'Anna wrote to Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki, explaining the situation: "The City of Lemon Grove has gone to great lengths to hide this environmental issue from Caltrans to avoid the risk of Caltrans denying their encroachment permit and has attempted to hide Caltrans' previous ownership of the property from the current owner in order to advance purchase negotiations of the property due to the cost of remediation."

D'Anna claims to have found a legal precedent that would make Caltrans liable for the contamination.

Yet to hear back from Caltrans, D'Anna awaits the March 19 court date and hopes that he and his neighbors will not be forced to vacate their properties for what he calls an "unnecessary realignment project."

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Ponzi March 6, 2010 @ 8:18 a.m.

What’s with the government of the city of Lemon Grove? There must be some money behind their motives on redevelopment?

Isn’t the city of Lemon Grove the 2nd smallest city in the county of San Diego, after Del Mar? What reason did Lemon Grove even have for incorporating? Isn’t their biggest employer a trash collection company, EDCO? Or is it a car dealership, Bob Baker Toyota?

How many sit down restaurants are in Lemon Grove? Maybe five worth mentioning. What draws people to visit Lemon Grove? Doesn’t the city have just one middle school? (after consolidating for cost costing measure, Lemon Grove Middle school is being closed, and Palm Middle school will be the only one open in the “city”.)

Has the government ever considered it shortchanged it’s citizens by incorporating? The streets are going to hell. The parks are not maintained well. The traditions like “Old Times Days” are being disbanded. It seems the people of the city pay a lot to be, well, a “city.” Maybe they should consider either annexation of Spring Valley, Casa de Oro and other unincorporated areas into a “tri-city” type of governance or just dissolve the incorporation.

Frankly, I feel the leaders of the city of Lemon Grove are not doing anything that the county could not do. The city looks the same as it did 30 years ago. There is no progress and no vision. The place is slowly eroding into a big, bedroom community ghetto.

The citizens are not active and don’t care. I wonder why anyone would run for a government office there unless there is a pay back. Who owns the land that is being forced to be redeveloped? As they always say… “follow the money.”


Dorian Hargrove March 6, 2010 @ 10:20 a.m.

Some good questions for a follow-up article, Ponzi. I'll have more after the March 19 court date! Thanks.


Joe Poutous March 7, 2010 @ 12:22 p.m.

Not the first time Lemon Grove has been pro-industry when it comes to the health of the citizens.

My backyard is an asbestos laced mess, and the city council has sided with developers a few times to allow it to be disturbed.

Just ask John.. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/encanto-gas-holder

We are still at the start of the alphabet, I wonder what kind of death we will find when we get to the letter B.

  • Joe

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