It’s an effort that has spanned 14 years, but residents along Rocky Crest Road in Fallbrook aren’t giving up. Approximately 40 people attended a meeting March 25 to add their voices and support to a plea for the County of San Diego to address problems associated with the roadway. Four representatives from the Department of Public Works were on hand to hear their statements and questions.
Shirley Fender and Jan Scott, who are leading the current effort, appeared to have done extensive research into the various issues concerning the road, and said “it is time” for the county to address the problem.
“We have shown more facts and more problems that are backed with facts, data, and logic to the county,” said Fender.
Rocky Crest Road, which connects to South Mission Road just north of Los Jilgueros Preserve, is traveled by about 1,400 vehicles per day, according to a privately-commissioned traffic study, Scott said.
Originally designated as a private road with public access, maintenance responsibilities at its origination were placed on the property owners. However, residents have said repeatedly that numerous actions, many of which were reportedly approved by the county, have created a mushrooming problem that is “too big and too expensive” for the property owners to handle, necessitating the need for it to be changed to a county-maintained road.
County representatives have repeatedly replied that because the road is private, it is not possible for the agency to spend funds on it, despite the problems.
“There is no doubt you have an issue with the road,” said Mohamad Fakhrriddine, deputy director of engineering services for the county’s department of public works. “We have spent time trying to find a way to help the situation, but we can’t spend funds on a private road, and we have a job to comply with county policy.”
Scott replied that she had researched the possibilities and said, “The county Board of Supervisors can do something if it is a financial burden to the property owners. They can override the public works dept. and say ‘fix the road!'”
Fender added, “This road has so many issues that eventually [the county] is going to have to do something. They will have to look outside their box.”
Property owners and representatives from the Masonic Lodge and Fallbrook Historical Society shared historical information they had about the various changes that had occurred over the years that worsened the problem. Items included plans for water drainage, submitted by contractors and developers who had built homes off the road over the years, which had been approved by the county, but resulted in a negative impact to the road and its condition.
Scott pointed out that the county had also installed a turn lane off South Mission Road leading to Rocky Crest.
“You invited the public to use this road to access Camp Pendleton and apartment complexes in the area,” she said, indicating that it led to increased through traffic to Hill Street and points west. Discussion then ensued about commuters using the road to avoid traffic problems leading into the Naval Weapons Station gate.
Scott then presented information dating back to the 1960s included in topographical maps indicating where natural water flow was indicated.
Attendees also repeated conversations they had individually had with county representatives over the years. All mentioned the problem with water collection on the east end of the roadway.
“One county representative told us (indicating board members of the Fallbrook Historical Society) that another storm drain was needed up on Hill Street to help deal with the drainage problem,” said Bev McDougal.
Most information that was presented was followed by statements that personnel turnover within the public works department over the years kept stalling the chance of residents achieving success in getting the problem addressed.
Joe Fedorchak said to the county representatives, “You have a responsibility to respond to what your predecessors did and approved when it comes to water runoff and safety factors with this road.”
Steve Ron, project manager for the public works department, said, “At this point, the board policy that is in effect now prevents us from making any improvements to a private road.” However, Cid Tesoro, program manager for the watershed protection program, said he would take one action.
“I will have a forensic analysis of the drainage done in order to gather more information; things might have shifted over time and a new path for water may have evolved,” said Tesoro.
Terry Rayback, Land Use and Environment Group program manager for capital improvement projects, said, “If the road was brought up to county standards, the county would accept it (for funded maintenance) at that point.”
“Other than that, our hands are tied,” said Fakhrriddine.