With the health and economic crises brought on by the pandemic, Pacific Beach civic groups and individuals are stepping in to fill gaps in voluntarily cleaning and maintaining the community’s sidewalks, trails, and landscaping.
Pacific Beach Town Council is presently removing gum and doing deep cleaning of years-old grime from Garnet Avenue sidewalks in the community’s business district and removing overgrown weeds from medians.
“I've never seen a reaction like we've seen over the past month or two on these sidewalk-cleaning projects,” said Pacific Beach Town Council president Brian White. “People love this stuff. They are so appreciative and are all pitching in donations to see more. It's a work in progress, but as we make these initial cleanings, we're looking to maintain a higher standard for clean sidewalks moving forward.”
Individuals have also been busy contributing to the community clean-up effort like Laurie Carlock, a volunteer with Friends of Rose Creek, an environmental and racial justice advocacy group. A community volunteer, Carlock has placed trash cans along the Rose Creek bike path and is emptying them herself.
The retired schoolteacher and caregiver said of her clean-up task: “There are places where the water is so filthy and not moving that it’s really a health hazard. I decided to do trash and invasive plants, quite a big job. From people that use the bike paths, trash is just all over the place. Nowadays, people just open up candy bars and throw the wrappers. Food, they just leave it right where they ate.”
Added Carlock: “The creek is so beautiful. The more I’ve worked the past four years, the more I’ve learned about it and want to promote it. The bike path is so close to the creek, all that [trash] is just going to blow into the creek.”
Of sidewalk cleansing, White of PBTC said: “This is a community-driven effort to clean up our neighborhood. Power washing with high-temp PSI water can also remove gum. Sidewalks and trash cans are not normally our lane as a town council, but we're happy to clean up where needed. We’re contacting property owners trying to get them involved and committed to long-term maintenance. But we’re also here to help ourselves, and the community has been loving it.”
White noted PBTC has added trash to its to-do list, pointing out problematic leaky bags have necessitated double bagging or using thicker bags.
PBTC also regularly hosts weekend events trimming back overgrowing vegetation from medians at gateways and roadways within the beach community.
“We started out removing weeds on a few medians on Garnet Avenue with only a couple people, and in recent months, the efforts have grown into large-scale volunteer events,” White. “We've been averaging 30 volunteers per event on recent efforts to clean up large sections of Mission Bay Drive and Soledad Mountain Road. Coming up in October, we'll be tackling the north end of Mission Bay Drive by the I-5 north on-ramp.”
For more information on that program, visit pbtowncouncil.org/weed-removal.
Carlock pointed out there is no shortage of clean-up work left to do in Rose Creek. But progress is being made.
“After months of walking the entire area for trash, we got the idea to have trash barrels,” she said. “They have turned out to work very well and we now have five barrels along the bike path that need to be emptied every five days ideally.”
Added Carlock: “The invasive plants are everywhere: Castor Bean, Thistles, Pampus Grass, Fennel, Mustard, and Wild Radish. Many of the pathways need to be cut back from these invasive plants and the trees and native bushes also. Yes, we pay for the trash barrels and for our tools. This is OK for now, but not sustainable. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer at every age and ability.”
Friends of Rose Creek is also distributing pamphlets with detailed information on the creek and their organization, including maps of the bike path while listing monthly activities and discussing ways to get involved.
OTHER VOLUNTEER GROUPS CONTRIBUTING
- Don’t Trash PB on its Facebook page notes, “We love Pacific Beach and hate litter. We're trying to end the constant trashing of PB, one bucket at a time.”
Their program is simple: Use Venmo to send them $15, and you’ll get a bucket and picker. Fill your bucket and post a picture on social media; they’ll send you $5. Do that twice more, and you’ve earned yourself a free bucket and picker to keep and use forever.
- Street Stewards has a Facebook page and encourages community members to adopt a nearby block or several blocks. Their online map shows adopted streets in green. The only obligation is to walk an adopted area once a week and pick up trash on the streets and sidewalks. Numerous PB residents have adopted blocks, but many important areas still need to be adopted. Visit the Street Stewards at streetstewards.comor their Facebook page for more info and to sign up.