You Didn't Cause This Problem; Should You Pay To Fix It?

The city hired Blenheim Facilities Management to “manage” the Riding Park property. Blenheim also owns a company which uses the Riding Park almost exclusively to host their equestrian events. 

Blenheim has multiple horse “wash racks” mere feet from the banks of San Juan Creek. For many years, contaminated water from the horse wash racks has drained into the creek. In addition, as noted in a Notice of Violation, Blenheim also had a human shower trailer with at least three stalls which also appeared to drain into the creek. Several PVC pipes were noted sticking out from the creek bank, which appeared to serve as drains into the creek.

Contaminated water drains from horse wash
racks (left) to creek (right)
Acting upon concerns from residents, the San Diego Water Board (SDWB) which has authority over the creek watershed, issued multiple Notices of Violation to the city to clean up these conditions. Several months after the notices were issued, the water board issued a letter of non-compliance. In reports to commissions and council, City Manager Ben Siegel denied that there were any existing code violations, even as the water board was issuing yet another non-compliance email to the city.

 In January 2017, City Engineer Hossein Ajideh wrote the following in an email to the water board about the city’s plan to clean up the contamination problem caused by Blenheim; “… We… discussed the City’s long term plan that includes expanding the City’s sewer system to capture wash rack discharges. We anticipate that the construction of the sewer expansion will occur in late 2017.” During a recent council meeting, City Manager Siegel also reiterated the city’s plan to install a sewer line to capture the contaminated water from the horse wash racks.

Blenheim’s property management agreement with the city states that they are responsible for complying with all laws, codes, etc. In addition, they are responsible for repairing any damage to the property arising from their management of it.

Why now are the taxpayers being tapped to pay $500,000 to install a sewer line to remediate a problem caused by a private business? It remains to be seen whether the city will hold Blenheim responsible for fixing and restoring any damage to the public property.   

Should taxpayers pay to remediate Blenheim’s problem? The CCS wants to hear from you! Email us at: Your name will not be printed without your permission.    

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