Sunset Cliffs hillside. "The herbicide, Ranger Pro, is a post emergence, systemic herbicide with no residual soil activity."
  • Sunset Cliffs hillside. "The herbicide, Ranger Pro, is a post emergence, systemic herbicide with no residual soil activity."
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In March, the Reader reported details of the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Improvement Project, quoting Ellen Quick, trails committee chairperson for the park advisory council, saying “Thirty-five acres will be revegetated with native plants. That’s going to bring more birds, more wildlife. The former ball field area will be restored and graded to natural contours. It’s going to be awesome.”

But judging from its current condition, not everyone is convinced it’s going to be awesome.

On Tuesday December 8th, 2018, Point Loma resident Pauline was walking at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park when she noticed workers spraying along the hillside.

The orange fencing has been up for over 3 years now has been disintegrating.

The orange fencing has been up for over 3 years now has been disintegrating.

“I walk the park at least 4 times a week and during a recent walk I was very upset to see three men with backpack sprayers walking in a line spraying the hillside,” she told me. “When I asked what they were doing the gentleman in the middle told me they were spraying to kill non-native plants and weeds. I informed him that this is a ‘natural’ park and asked what they were using for spray. He would not answer me and they did not like that I took their picture.”

When asked, San Diego City Public Information Officer Alec Phillip confirmed that; “Crews were using an herbicide to abate weeds from the site as part of the larger effort to restore natural vegetation in the area. The herbicide, Ranger Pro, is a post emergence, systemic herbicide with no residual soil activity. Throughout this project, crews have maintained storm water pollution measures that prevent water runoff and any potential spray drift from escaping the job site.”

Ranger Pro is generic Roundup Pro, and is equivalent to and just as effective as the name brand but much less expensive.

The photos illustrate the before and after water run off routes and the new road which now blocks this.

The photos illustrate the before and after water run off routes and the new road which now blocks this.

“While the use of Glyphosate-based pesticides such as Roundup (and related generic brands) has become highly politicized in recent years, the independent scientific community has shown the ability of these products to negatively impact marine and aquatic ecosystems,” said Marco Gonzalez of the Coastal Law Group LLC. “As such, I would expect the City to have significant protections in place to ensure runoff containing Glyphosate does not make its way into streams, reservoirs, or directly into the ocean. Use of such products in close proximity to sensitive coastal environments, such as throughout Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, certainly warrants concern.”

Community members have been sharing concerns since the onset of the re-development, concerns which seem to be growing.

“The next group of pictures are ones I have taken throughout this mass destruction of our ‘natural park,’” Pauline continued. “The trash that is left behind…the orange fencing has been up for over 3 years now has been disintegrating over the years leaving behind parts of small orange plastic which end up in our tide pools.”

Another concern? Run-off is forming a ‘mini lake’ after crews filled in an existing creek bed.

“For many years all the rain run off from Point Loma Nazarene College hillside as well as Lomaland Drive in both directions was directed into a culvert and then to an existing natural canyon and into the ocean. This worked well,” longtime resident Scott explained. “What this project has done is to fill in the existing creek which led to the canyon in order to build a road to access the area where the [college] ball field was. As a result, the rainwater runoff has no way to flow to the ocean and is directed onto the ball field area. This has caused a great deal of new erosion and the mini lake shown in the photo. The photos illustrate the before and after water run off routes and the new road which now blocks this.

"I do not know much about the poisoning of the new growth except that they are doing it. A couple of weeks ago when a friend pointed out the new growth as a sign of things returning to normal, I semi-seriously said ‘They will probably come in and kill it.’ Unfortunately, this actually is happening…I have been surfing, running the trails and exploring Sunset Cliffs for over 70 years and am disturbed about what they are doing to our Cliffs. Two of the greatest losses are the great palm they bulldozed and Billy’s Bench both of which were enjoyed by all for many years.”

Another resident, Geoff Page, has 45 years of experience in the construction business including that of an expert witness. He told me the following:

“Having been in the construction business my whole career, I can say with certainty that irrigation piping is not usually well installed and causes major damage when it leaks. Often, the leaks are not easily discovered until real damage has occurred. They installed thousands of feet of the stuff out there that will need to be closely watched. I wonder who will do that? And, what is to prevent them from using it if they think it is needed? This is a future catastrophe waiting to happen.”

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chendri887 Jan. 15, 2019 @ 3:42 p.m.

The before and after photographs here show 1) BEFORE: An area filled with invasive plants, including the highly invasive and noxious Garland/Crown daisy. 2) AFTER: An area cleared in which more gentle native plants have a chance of re-establishing themselves. And in terms of using Round-up: It's a tough call, but that is one of the few things that completely eradicates invasive plants. Without it, even with stringent hand removal, sometimes those plants are impossible to get rid of. Just my two cents.


mb2121 Jan. 15, 2019 @ 4:04 p.m.

I have a backyard full of non-native plants and I love it and so do the birds and bees. I understand allowing native plants to thrive and even attempting to stop invasive species from invading but tearing up an established landscape just to try to make it more "native" is not a good move in my opinion. Just don't plant any more non-native plants, leave it alone and nature will do what it does. My 2¢ as well.


Geranium Jan. 16, 2019 @ 7:48 a.m.

Restoring native plants in our open space is a great idea. But its a lot of work, and therefore expensive to do. So the entire problem here is simply that the City pays people to come up with these ideas, but doen't provide the resources to realize them. They fund enough money to make the plan work on paper, but in reality its much harder to realize. The use of Round Up is an inexpensive quick fix, what is really needed in more labor, vigilance and care. And Round Up in this location (on the ocean) is a terrible idea.


AlexClarke Jan. 16, 2019 @ 7:57 a.m.

So how many workers will be needed to keep non-native plants out of the area? Another stupid idea that will not work. Thankfully it isn't an airplane.


Visduh Jan. 16, 2019 @ 5:05 p.m.

The process reminds me of a quote that came out of the Vietnam War. A commander said that, "We had to destroy the village to save it." The (il)logic used to justify some actions can be over-the-top. Disclosure: I am a Vietnam veteran.


MaxVentura Feb. 14, 2019 @ 2:42 p.m.

It's not enough to call for ending Glyphosate use because there always are other herbicides on the ready. This fight can be won, but to no benefit when they pull out Dicamba or others they have lined up. The call is for no toxics. No pesticide approach at all. Decades before more direct cancer links to Glyphosate, a surfactant in the product Roundup was linked to cancer. Glyphosate is bad enough, but it’s always used as a product with other chemicals causing synergistic reactions.The call is for an end to pesticide use. Not a "reduced use" or "occasional use”, industry speak, no legal meaning. Beware the various non-profits using that language; we’ve challenged them repeatedly. Calling for an end to pesticide use would result in their not getting hefty grants from funders who seem to want to be sure no one calls for the end to pesticide use. Most do not realize the "Invasive Species Councils" are of the pesticide industry. Many well-meaning people are drawn in because native plants sounds nice. You need to understand who's driving the push, and why. The line is, "We have to kill to bring back nature." Who decides what is "native"? Biologists not influenced by the pesticide manufacturers and the manufactured emergencies they tout have a lot to say about this. You have the opportunity to learn a great deal about this by going to the videos of events we've put on in the SF Bay Area bringing together biologists and a fire fighter, and health advocates as we work to stop deforestation which is coupled with pesticide use on and around stumps. We're losing the moisture from 10-16 inches per year fog drip from healthy Eucalyptus and Monterey Pines, a safeguarding against fires natural to the area by keeping soil wet. All in the name of removing full and healthy habitats supposedly to "bring back" "native" plants. All of this is not only damaging, but these "native plant restoration" projects are just ongoing gardening projects. Plants or insects are NOT eradicated, even if some die in the moment. What people call non-native are things which can survive degradation humans cause. They are the foundation of new and healthy full habitats. This kind of non-sensical killing-to-save not only does not work, but harms the workers, and every living thing anywhere in the larger vicinity. These herbicides translocate through soil, air, water, birds and terrestrial wildlife track the toxins and people and animals receive the toxins via inhalation, absorption, and ingestion. Please, friends, do not re-invent the wheel but use and re-use the information others of us have brought together over decades. Have house parties showing these videos of full programs of a couple hours each which give an excellent overview of what really is going on. (click on the Wildfire pages or the Light Brown Apple Moth pages to find those videos and more). Go to to get an enormous amount more on the "nativist" issues. They're killing the soil.


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