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Santee tosses Mesa Road to county like a hot potato

Mission Trails park is main user but they're not about to help

Neighbors have made their own repairs but in between patches, the dust still flies.
Neighbors have made their own repairs but in between patches, the dust still flies.

Just before Mesa Road spills into Mission Trails Regional Park in Santee, that last quarter mile is still a dirt path built before the auto, riddled with potholes.

In 1884 it was declared a public highway. Today, those who live in Santee say it's a city street while the city calls it a private road, and the county sees it as a park trail.

Last week, the 14 or so homeowners who live along the deeply rutted stretch learned that they won't be getting any help with paving from the city or county. They've been asking for 20 years.

The final answer from Santee is that the road leading to the trailhead is all theirs to maintain, even though most of its traffic is park-bound. Should a developer come along and improve it – then "it could be accepted into the city’s roadway system."

Where the same road turns smooth, it's part of the Mesa Heights subdivision where developer Lifetime Homes was required to build the road in 1990 to meet the city’s Public Works Standards next to their site.

The roadway south of the subdivision had no such requirement.

While the entire length of Mesa Road is within city limits, the city only maintains the section that comes before the rustic road.

According to local Allen Zwan, the city did provide temporary pavement one time, followed by some repairs a few years later.

"It has since fallen into a terrible state and it is only a matter of time before some resident or visitor to Mission Trails park is injured due to" its condition.

Neighbors have made their own repairs but in between patches, the dust still flies. In March, they raised the issue again at a city council meeting where the mayor advised they would get "a full report."

But at the next meeting, the road's history since 1884 was explained in a twisted tale of ownership that passed its maintenance back to the homeowners.

Neighbors say the 1884 county document proves it's a dedicated county road, and should therefore have automatically become a city road at the time of Santee's incorporation in 1980.

Yet, according to Santee officials, it was never accepted into the county road system, so the city isn't obligated to maintain it. At the time, the county was maintaining Mesa Road only from Mission Gorge Road to about the southern limits of the Mesa Heights subdivision.

"The county still claims fee ownership to that portion of Mesa Road south of the Mesa Heights subdivision," a staff report says. (The smooth portion was acquired by the developer from the county in 1990).

The record search found no evidence the road was ever dropped by the county, which has to follow a process when accepting or abandoning a road.

Santee officials suggest that Mesa Road wasn't accepted into the county road system because the "highway" has morphed into a trail.

The board's lack of action "is likely due to the creation of the Mission Trails Regional Park and the use of the road as a park trail."

Toby Brown, a resident who has sought help from the Mission Trails Regional Park Committee, estimates that eighty percent of the road's users are park visitors.

But "whoever owns the park, doesn't have the money or jurisdiction to do any road improvements adjacent" to it over here, he told the city. "They may help pay for it if the San Diego City Council got together with them."

"For families that live here, we really get the bad end of it because we're living on a dirt road" within the city limits.

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Neighbors have made their own repairs but in between patches, the dust still flies.
Neighbors have made their own repairs but in between patches, the dust still flies.

Just before Mesa Road spills into Mission Trails Regional Park in Santee, that last quarter mile is still a dirt path built before the auto, riddled with potholes.

In 1884 it was declared a public highway. Today, those who live in Santee say it's a city street while the city calls it a private road, and the county sees it as a park trail.

Last week, the 14 or so homeowners who live along the deeply rutted stretch learned that they won't be getting any help with paving from the city or county. They've been asking for 20 years.

The final answer from Santee is that the road leading to the trailhead is all theirs to maintain, even though most of its traffic is park-bound. Should a developer come along and improve it – then "it could be accepted into the city’s roadway system."

Where the same road turns smooth, it's part of the Mesa Heights subdivision where developer Lifetime Homes was required to build the road in 1990 to meet the city’s Public Works Standards next to their site.

The roadway south of the subdivision had no such requirement.

While the entire length of Mesa Road is within city limits, the city only maintains the section that comes before the rustic road.

According to local Allen Zwan, the city did provide temporary pavement one time, followed by some repairs a few years later.

"It has since fallen into a terrible state and it is only a matter of time before some resident or visitor to Mission Trails park is injured due to" its condition.

Neighbors have made their own repairs but in between patches, the dust still flies. In March, they raised the issue again at a city council meeting where the mayor advised they would get "a full report."

But at the next meeting, the road's history since 1884 was explained in a twisted tale of ownership that passed its maintenance back to the homeowners.

Neighbors say the 1884 county document proves it's a dedicated county road, and should therefore have automatically become a city road at the time of Santee's incorporation in 1980.

Yet, according to Santee officials, it was never accepted into the county road system, so the city isn't obligated to maintain it. At the time, the county was maintaining Mesa Road only from Mission Gorge Road to about the southern limits of the Mesa Heights subdivision.

"The county still claims fee ownership to that portion of Mesa Road south of the Mesa Heights subdivision," a staff report says. (The smooth portion was acquired by the developer from the county in 1990).

The record search found no evidence the road was ever dropped by the county, which has to follow a process when accepting or abandoning a road.

Santee officials suggest that Mesa Road wasn't accepted into the county road system because the "highway" has morphed into a trail.

The board's lack of action "is likely due to the creation of the Mission Trails Regional Park and the use of the road as a park trail."

Toby Brown, a resident who has sought help from the Mission Trails Regional Park Committee, estimates that eighty percent of the road's users are park visitors.

But "whoever owns the park, doesn't have the money or jurisdiction to do any road improvements adjacent" to it over here, he told the city. "They may help pay for it if the San Diego City Council got together with them."

"For families that live here, we really get the bad end of it because we're living on a dirt road" within the city limits.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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