Zapf's Swampland aka Cate's Litter Box

Eyesore median set to be clean in 2019

The median will be planted with blue glow agave, stalked bulbine, and red yucca.
  • The median will be planted with blue glow agave, stalked bulbine, and red yucca.

Joel Pointon in Clairemont has been calling his city council office about a messy median on Balboa Avenue at Mt. Abernathy and Mt. Alifan. He and others started making calls before Lorie Zapf was in District 6 and have called since councilmember Chris Cate took over Zapf's seat in 2014.

When asking why this one median was left untouched, Pointon said he was told nearby merchants "had complained and got that section skipped on the remodel because it would affect their businesses."

Once dubbed "Zapf's Swampland" because the median used to fill with water when it rained, residents now call it "Cate's Litter Box" because gravel was added to the median after Pointon brought up mosquito-borne diseases from standing water. "So now we have no water, just the weeds and trash ."

One local joked on social media that it would probably light a fire under someone if marijuana seeds were dropped on the median. But another resident didn't hold out much hope saying "it's just Clairemont."

A representative from Cate's office told constituents at a town council meeting in 2015 that the median was scheduled for repair in the following fiscal year.

And that didn't happen.

Rebecca Kelley from Cate's office said their representative, Dan Manley, told residents at a Clairemont council meeting in January 2019 that, per city staff, the median is "still on schedule to be completed this calendar year."

Anthony Santacroce of the city's PR office confirmed that the median repair is part of the Balboa Corridor Improvement Project. He said the project is underway with a timeline of six months, mostly updating four signal intersections and bringing them into ADA compliance.

Santacroce said the median will be landscaped (that wasn't in the cards in 2015 due to the drought). Santacroce emailed the plans approved by the Clairemont community planning group in 2018 showing the median will be planted with blue glow agave (slow-growing evergreen succulent), stalked bulbine (tall slender spikes with yellow flowers), and red yucca (tall spikes with deep rose-pink flowers).

Besides the median, many residents have been complaining about potholes. I asked Santacroce to give me some idea of where medians rank in the midst of repairing potholes and upgrading crosswalks.

"Without comparing across important infrastructure issues, street repair and pedestrian safety are among the city of San Diego’s highest priorities, evidenced by the progress being made on both fronts. Our pothole repair program averages 100 potholes filled a day."

Information in the city's capital improvement database (most recently updated on February 1) showed the project includes removal of a free right turn at the southwest corner at Kearny Villa Road and traffic signal modifications at Moraga Avenue and Viewridge Avenue. The timeline shows this project started in 2014 with preliminary engineering and design finished in 2018. The total project cost is $2,981,887.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


Ya'll need to take a drive through Lemon Grove where just about every street looks like "Cate's Litter Box." Added bonus, you'll be comforted to know that potholes are not just a San Diego problem, they thrive in Lemon Grove.

The Claremont sign on Balboa just west of 805 looks like a cardboard box. In fact when it had been hit by a car a few years ago , I replaced it with a cardboard box and that stayed there for a while. Nice work. I'm surprised at the bums that they allow to stand on the cobble rocks at intersections haven't fallen and sued the city yet

Have you experienced the real cranky beggar at Clairemont/Balboa? He calls the ladies names when they don't give him money. Every nasty name you can think of he has used. Maybe time for panhandler charm school?

It is only a matter of time before some worthless piece of human trash is injured and he will sue the City and win.

Log in to comment

Skip Ad