On November 11th just before 10 a.m., a report was submitted via the City of San Diego’s Get It Done app that a “sewer man hole is off” at the end of Del Monte Avenue in Ocean Beach.
Less than an hour later, two employees from the wastewater department showed up to replace it.
“We got a call that the cover was off, but, man, I didn’t expect to find this,” one of the employees told me. “They have two cots set up in there. People are definitely living in [the storm drain]. No one is in there right now, but I’m sure they’ll be back.”
The cover was found resting against the manhole, which was covered with a black garbage bag.
“The bag just has some metal objects in it to hold it in place when... I don’t know how they did it, those covers are heavy,” he explained after replacing it. “I could barely lift it to get it back on, so unless they have something to open it again... I don’t know, I wasn’t expecting to see cots down there. There’s only a narrow opening so I don’t know how they did it — to open it they need a hook or something to get in there, unless they have a screwdriver.”
The manhole is connected to the storm drain at the foot of Del Monte Avenue and drains through the opening in the bib below. Looking into the hole in the bib, one can see it’s filled with litter that will run into the ocean if not removed.
“We’ve notified Environmental Services to come out and evaluate,” the employee told me, “and, if possible, to remove the cots. But definitely to secure the cover.”
Several neighbors in the area have seen people crawling out of the hole in the bib before, but no one suspected there was enough room to live in there.
“I had no idea it had gotten so bad,” a nearby resident named Rob told me. “I’ve seen them come out [of the outlet] before and other manholes in the alley, but I had no idea they had beds down there. Wow."