Rose Creek residents think a park can stem mounting trash and pressures in Pacific Beach

California sunflowers are a native plant commonly found along the banks of lower Rose Creek.

With a number of City developments likely to increase the use and abuse of Rose Creek in east Pacific Beach , the Friends of Rose Creek made an impassioned plea for help at the PB Town Council meeting, Feb. 20.

Friends of Rose Creek executive director Karin Zirk described her group’s herculean efforts in removing four tons of trash annually from the creek during cleanups without a drop of assistance from the City, or plans for any.

“It’s like if you expected the people who live along the Boardwalk to be responsible for all the trash that happens on the beach,” Zirk said. “Is that reasonable? So what’s going on right now is those of us who live or work along the creek, we’re having to take care of the creek. We’re the only ones who do that.”

With headwaters in Scripps Ranch, Rose Creek drains about 36 square miles of land that includes chunks of La Jolla and Clairemont. What that means is the accumulated waste flushes out the final leg through Pacific Beach, explained Zirk, who noted items such as furniture, car batteries and even wheelbarrows among the more typical refuse.

Karin Zirk, executive director of the Friends of Rose Creek, explained the myriad challenges facing the local estuary to the Pacific Beach Town Council crowd, Feb. 20 at Crown Point Jr. Music Academy, and argued that making the creek a San Diego park could best help resolve them.
( Steven Mihailovich )

“Every time anybody in that entire watershed spills things on the ground like motor oil or neglects to pick up their dog poop, that stuff eventually finds its way into Rose Creek,” she said. “I know a lot of people in PB have been talking about all the trash that washes up on the beach after the rain. That’s because the trash is coming down the creek into Mission Bay and then out to sea.”

Rose Creek is administered by the City’s Transportation & Storm Water (TSW) Department, whose mandate is to keep the waterways clear to prevent flooding during heavy rains. So even with a bike path/walkway along the creek, Zirk said there are no amenities, not even trash cans.

She added that bulldozing the entire channel for free-flowing water, destroying any habitat along the way, is the only maintenance provided by TSW.

“I grew up in PB,” said Reba Cox, who lives along the creek. “The area from Mission Bay to Garnet Avenue used to be reeds and it was full of frogs. Then the City decided to come in and bulldoze it all down and now we’re left with this mess of invasive trees and bushes and the palm trees. It’s nothing like it was when I was growing up. That’s what happened when we bulldozed.”

According to Zirk, the untenable situation will be exacerbated by the City’s plan to increase density between Rose Creek and the I-5 from the current population of 1,000 residents to 7,500 with the Balboa Avenue Station for the Mid-Coast Trolley.

That comes on top of other City redevelopment plans for the area, including the De Anza Cove Project, Rewild Mission Bay and nearby wetlands restoration.

“All of this might be feasible if the City were including the needs of Rose Creek in their plans, but they’re not,” said Zirk.

“They’ve excluded it from their planning area, from all their environmental impact reports. They have excluded it from the whole project and then they said there will be no impact to Rose Creek.”

Zirk is pinning her hopes for improvements by having Rose Creek declared a park, preferably under the Tri-Canyon Division that covers the Rose Creek watershed and not Mission Bay Park.

“I just say, ‘absolutely,’ ” said Brian Curry. “Make it a park. Absolutely. I totally support that. Everybody should.”

Zirk asked the audience to support the petition for a Rose Creek park as well as continued and more immediate support for the regular cleanups. The next is slated for Saturday, April 27.

E-scooters still a thing

The audience’s embrace of Rose Creek in general contrasted with a dustup over e-scooters. Monica Eslamian, PB representative for District 2 City Council member Jennifer Campbell, announced the proposed regulations of e-scooters that passed the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee that day. 

Campbell’s chief of staff Venus Molina asked the audience for feedback on the proposals that Campbell would present to the City Council when the regulations came up for a vote.

Even though Molina requested e-mails, she got an earful instead.

Kristi Nelson expressed frustration that limitations on the size of e-scooter staging did not include PB.

Venus Molina and Monica Eslamian, from District 2 City Council member Jennifer Campbell’s office, assure the audience that e-scooters are a ‘hot’ issue for their boss, who welcomes community input before the Mayor’s proposed regulations go to a full City Council vote in the next months.
( Steven Mihailovich )

“We’re going to still be allowed to have 60 (e-scooters) on our corners, but downtown San Diego is going to be regulated?” she said. “You can’t go down a handicap ramp off of Garnet Avenue and cross the street without being blocked by scooters. You can’t even reach the button to push (for crossing) without all the scooters and bikes there.”

Laurie Carlock was similarly perturbed that the onus for the problems caused by dockless bikes and scooters had fallen on the community and the City, costing valuable time and money already.

“The companies should be taking up some of these issues,” Carlock said. “They should be creating ways to put them out there safely.”

Molina said that Campbell was eager to correct shortcomings in the regulations, like adding penalties to parents and adults who enable underage e-scooter drivers. However, she also noted that the Council member represented the entire district.

“Just so that you know, we understand from our communities and from our district how this is such a major issue, but we also have the other side that really is all about mobility ... and the fact that we need to provide options for people to get out of their cars,” Molina said. “We’re hearing that side, too.”

Community Relations Police Officer Larry Hesselgesser got a comparable grilling when he announced the latest e-scooter detail for Saturday, March 2, when a police unit will focus on e-scooter violations. A previous detail netted about 100 citations, he said.

Hesselgesser faced a barrage of questions about speeding enforcement, lack of identifying plates, liability and drug dealing, among other legalities regarding e-scooters.

“A lot of questions you’re bringing up are questions that I would want you to ask City Council,” he said. “Law enforcement doesn’t have any say in that. We just enforce the laws (the City comes up with).”

Yet it was Don Gross who succinctly summed up the e-scooters by noting their powerful effect: “Every meeting you go to nowadays, these vehicles absolutely take over and nobody can think anymore,” he said.


How to Help Rose Creek

• To learn more about Rose Creek and Friends of Rose Creek, make a donation, volunteer for a cleanup or sign the petition to turn it into a park, visit or call (858) 405-7503.

• Monthly meetings are held 6-8 p.m. first Wednesdays at the Pacific Beach Rec Center, 1405 Diamond St.

• The next community cleanup is Saturday, April 27.