An obstructed storm drain at Via De La Bandola in San Ysidro. Courtesy David Alvarez
An obstructed storm drain at Via De La Bandola in San Ysidro. Courtesy David Alvarez

San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez called for the city to declare a state of emergency to clear storm channels before the winter’s increasingly likely El Niño.

“This is on everybody’s mind today because of yesterday’s rainfall,” said Alvarez at a news conference Wednesday at City Hall. “If we were to have an event of the magnitude that people are talking about, we’re going to have some severe damage in our city.”

Alvarez was joined by Councilman Scott Sherman in calling for the city to immediately begin clearing 25 storm channels that are obstructed by vegetation and debris. These channels are mostly on the south and east sides of the city, and Alvarez distributed photos of the ten worst.

David Alvarez (right) and Scott Sherman at the podium.

“We want to act now,” he said “We don’t want to wait for rain to come and it be too late.”

Alvarez said he is asking for the city to request a special permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin clearing the channels.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts a 95 percent chance of a major El Niño condition in the Northern Hemisphere winter that will gradually weaken through the spring. An El Niño usually brings intense rain to Southern California.

Alvarez also introduced a public website — BeReadySanDiego.org — with information about preparing for an El Niño.

“I believe that the city is capable of doing much more,” said Alvarez.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.