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Oceanside uses Roundup on storm drains

City goes after weeds but not homeless

Jeremiah Depesa says Oceanside poisons his bees and the surf.
Jeremiah Depesa says Oceanside poisons his bees and the surf.

Jeremiah Depesa lives at the west end of the San Luis Rey Valley. The backyard of his hillside home has hosted beehives for the last four years. He was headed out for a morning surf session at about 8 am last October.

“I saw this guy in a city of Oceanside truck with pump tanks pull up and he starts spraying. I said, ‘Hey, what are you spraying?’ He told me it was Roundup. And he didn’t even have a mask on. I told him ‘I have bees right here. My daughter lives here. Can’t you just go somewhere else?’ He said ‘I have to do my job.’ I told him that Roundup causes lymphoma which kills you. He looked at me straight in the eyes and said ‘That depends on who you talk to.’ I told him it’s a no-brainer. 'You can take a whiff of the stuff and know it’s bad for you.'” Depesa recorded it on video.

Depessa lives across about 100 yards from the Arctic Glacier ice plant. Its water runoff fills the concrete culvert/storm drain that runs along Benet Road. The ever-present moisture brings weeds which in turn brings the city of Oceanside weed abatement crew about every six months or so, says Depesa.

Leucadia lost its bumblebees last year.

“He just started spraying up and down the ditch, filling it up with poison,” says Depesa. “We live about 80 to 100 feet away and the wind sometimes blows it up there. Plus, the culvert runs right into the San Luis Rey River and I surf the south jetty right where it comes out into the ocean. I had one friend who surfed who got MS. Another got cancer. I got a full body rash. It's poison like this that we are immersed in the ocean.”

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And every time the city sprays Roundup, Depesa says, it wreaks havoc on his bees. “If they detect poison they will just up and leave. Five or six hives have completely died.”

Starting in 2018, Monsanto, creator of Roundup, was hit with multi-million dollar judgments compensating groundskeepers and homeowners who claimed they got lymphoma from glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient. Published reports have questioned if a $10 billion fund set up by Mosanto would be enough to cover the tens of thousands of pending claims. Pesticides.org has linked glyphosate to cancer, endocrine disruption, neuro-toxicity and kidney and liver damage. Monsanto said it would stop selling Roundup in the U.S. for home and garden use in 2023.

Last month city staffers in Oceanside’s public works department outlined their plans at their annual pest abatement program presentation in front of the Parks and Recreation Commission. The commissioners were asked specifically if they cared that Roundup was being used by the city. None of the commissioners had anything to say.

But the San Diego Water Board did. In fact, based on Depesa's video of the maskless city sprayer, it issued a notice of violation to the city of Oceanside. On January 31, Erica Ryan, water resources control engineer says her department was assured by Oceanside that it would comply with its own jurisdictional runoff management plan and not use Roundup in its waterways.

Oceanside’s Roundup dustup is a big deal according to George Courser, the conservation committee chair for the Sierra Club, San Diego chapter. “They have not extended proper oversight over their employees. Roundup is the most notorious herbicide on the planet. We do know that it has had severe impacts on our environment. It kills everything it comes in contact with. There is no stopping it. It’s just like Agent Orange in Vietnam. But we are not Vietnam.”

Courser says manual labor is the best way to deal for invasive plant removal, but that the Sierra Club even endorses the use of chlorine over Roundup. “You have to think of people first.”

The October Roundup episode helped Quentin Alexander decide it was time to leave Oceanside. He owns and operates Hive Savers (hivesavers.com) which helps preserve bee hives locally. Depesa learned how to create thriving hives from Alexander, who maintained hives just west of Depesa on the grounds of the Rosicrucian Fellowship. Alexander pulled his 10-hive Hive Savers bee sanctuary out of Oceanside in December.

“I’m abandoning that project,” says Alexander who now spends a lot of his bee-saving time in the Elfin Forest area of Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe. He says his neighbors there are less toxic. Literally.

“My new neighbors don’t use chemicals…..We just found a male bumblebee which means a hive is close by where the queen is laying eggs.” Alexander knows it’s still an uphill battle. “Our native pollinators, which are the bumblebees, are almost completely extinct. Leucadia lost its bumblebees last year. There are still a few holdouts out there who won’t ditch the chemicals.”

Alexander says he feels double crossed by Oceanside. “This last summer we asked them to please don’t spray chemicals within two miles. We got the impression they would not.”

Besides, he asks, who cares about weeds in storm drain ditches? “What’s the harm of having weeds anyway? Some of them provide pollinating support for the bees. Why would Oceanside care so much about the weeds in that area (around the intersection of Benet Road and Jones Road) and do nothing about the homeless who are camped down there? Look how ridiculous that is. There were always at least 50 to 100 people squatting on the street. They would [defecate] in the gutter, leave trash in the gutter…I’ve had my truck broken into, equipment stolen, they raided my shed.”

Suzanne Hume, founder of Cleanearth4kids.org says Oceanside passed then immediately broke its own laws. “I was shocked and heartbroken. We helped get them to pass the Integrated Pest Management Plan in 2020 which does not allow Roundup to be used unless there is a documented threat to health or property.”

Oceanside public works division manager Nathan Mertz confirmed that Roundup was no longer being used in city parks as of 2020, but did not answer other questions about Oceanside’s ongoing use of Roundup, or if employees still apply it without a mask.

“When that plan passed we were so happy for a huge victory,” says Hume. “We assumed they would not randomly spray poison into this culvert. The city is opening us up to lawsuits.” Ironically, Hume says she was poisoned when she was exposed to pesticides dropped from a helicopter when she lived adjacent to West Coast Tomato Growers near Guajome Lake. “I did not sue. Instead I put all my energy into cleanearth4kids.org.”

She says West Coast Tomato Growers still use pesticides and she wonders if they would have stopped if she had sued.

Alexander asks anyone interested to contact him regarding the California Bumblebee Project supporting pesticide-free zones.

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Jeremiah Depesa says Oceanside poisons his bees and the surf.
Jeremiah Depesa says Oceanside poisons his bees and the surf.

Jeremiah Depesa lives at the west end of the San Luis Rey Valley. The backyard of his hillside home has hosted beehives for the last four years. He was headed out for a morning surf session at about 8 am last October.

“I saw this guy in a city of Oceanside truck with pump tanks pull up and he starts spraying. I said, ‘Hey, what are you spraying?’ He told me it was Roundup. And he didn’t even have a mask on. I told him ‘I have bees right here. My daughter lives here. Can’t you just go somewhere else?’ He said ‘I have to do my job.’ I told him that Roundup causes lymphoma which kills you. He looked at me straight in the eyes and said ‘That depends on who you talk to.’ I told him it’s a no-brainer. 'You can take a whiff of the stuff and know it’s bad for you.'” Depesa recorded it on video.

Depessa lives across about 100 yards from the Arctic Glacier ice plant. Its water runoff fills the concrete culvert/storm drain that runs along Benet Road. The ever-present moisture brings weeds which in turn brings the city of Oceanside weed abatement crew about every six months or so, says Depesa.

Leucadia lost its bumblebees last year.

“He just started spraying up and down the ditch, filling it up with poison,” says Depesa. “We live about 80 to 100 feet away and the wind sometimes blows it up there. Plus, the culvert runs right into the San Luis Rey River and I surf the south jetty right where it comes out into the ocean. I had one friend who surfed who got MS. Another got cancer. I got a full body rash. It's poison like this that we are immersed in the ocean.”

Sponsored
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And every time the city sprays Roundup, Depesa says, it wreaks havoc on his bees. “If they detect poison they will just up and leave. Five or six hives have completely died.”

Starting in 2018, Monsanto, creator of Roundup, was hit with multi-million dollar judgments compensating groundskeepers and homeowners who claimed they got lymphoma from glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient. Published reports have questioned if a $10 billion fund set up by Mosanto would be enough to cover the tens of thousands of pending claims. Pesticides.org has linked glyphosate to cancer, endocrine disruption, neuro-toxicity and kidney and liver damage. Monsanto said it would stop selling Roundup in the U.S. for home and garden use in 2023.

Last month city staffers in Oceanside’s public works department outlined their plans at their annual pest abatement program presentation in front of the Parks and Recreation Commission. The commissioners were asked specifically if they cared that Roundup was being used by the city. None of the commissioners had anything to say.

But the San Diego Water Board did. In fact, based on Depesa's video of the maskless city sprayer, it issued a notice of violation to the city of Oceanside. On January 31, Erica Ryan, water resources control engineer says her department was assured by Oceanside that it would comply with its own jurisdictional runoff management plan and not use Roundup in its waterways.

Oceanside’s Roundup dustup is a big deal according to George Courser, the conservation committee chair for the Sierra Club, San Diego chapter. “They have not extended proper oversight over their employees. Roundup is the most notorious herbicide on the planet. We do know that it has had severe impacts on our environment. It kills everything it comes in contact with. There is no stopping it. It’s just like Agent Orange in Vietnam. But we are not Vietnam.”

Courser says manual labor is the best way to deal for invasive plant removal, but that the Sierra Club even endorses the use of chlorine over Roundup. “You have to think of people first.”

The October Roundup episode helped Quentin Alexander decide it was time to leave Oceanside. He owns and operates Hive Savers (hivesavers.com) which helps preserve bee hives locally. Depesa learned how to create thriving hives from Alexander, who maintained hives just west of Depesa on the grounds of the Rosicrucian Fellowship. Alexander pulled his 10-hive Hive Savers bee sanctuary out of Oceanside in December.

“I’m abandoning that project,” says Alexander who now spends a lot of his bee-saving time in the Elfin Forest area of Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe. He says his neighbors there are less toxic. Literally.

“My new neighbors don’t use chemicals…..We just found a male bumblebee which means a hive is close by where the queen is laying eggs.” Alexander knows it’s still an uphill battle. “Our native pollinators, which are the bumblebees, are almost completely extinct. Leucadia lost its bumblebees last year. There are still a few holdouts out there who won’t ditch the chemicals.”

Alexander says he feels double crossed by Oceanside. “This last summer we asked them to please don’t spray chemicals within two miles. We got the impression they would not.”

Besides, he asks, who cares about weeds in storm drain ditches? “What’s the harm of having weeds anyway? Some of them provide pollinating support for the bees. Why would Oceanside care so much about the weeds in that area (around the intersection of Benet Road and Jones Road) and do nothing about the homeless who are camped down there? Look how ridiculous that is. There were always at least 50 to 100 people squatting on the street. They would [defecate] in the gutter, leave trash in the gutter…I’ve had my truck broken into, equipment stolen, they raided my shed.”

Suzanne Hume, founder of Cleanearth4kids.org says Oceanside passed then immediately broke its own laws. “I was shocked and heartbroken. We helped get them to pass the Integrated Pest Management Plan in 2020 which does not allow Roundup to be used unless there is a documented threat to health or property.”

Oceanside public works division manager Nathan Mertz confirmed that Roundup was no longer being used in city parks as of 2020, but did not answer other questions about Oceanside’s ongoing use of Roundup, or if employees still apply it without a mask.

“When that plan passed we were so happy for a huge victory,” says Hume. “We assumed they would not randomly spray poison into this culvert. The city is opening us up to lawsuits.” Ironically, Hume says she was poisoned when she was exposed to pesticides dropped from a helicopter when she lived adjacent to West Coast Tomato Growers near Guajome Lake. “I did not sue. Instead I put all my energy into cleanearth4kids.org.”

She says West Coast Tomato Growers still use pesticides and she wonders if they would have stopped if she had sued.

Alexander asks anyone interested to contact him regarding the California Bumblebee Project supporting pesticide-free zones.

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