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Judge Delays Action on Pomerado Road

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Poway’s attempt to force neighboring San Diego to reopen Pomerado Road to traffic between the two cities was detoured Friday, dashing Poway city leaders’ hopes of giving their constituents an early Christmas present--the easing of ever-increasing traffic congestion.

Superior Court Judge Jeffery T. Miller ordered the North County community to present more evidence in its case against the city of San Diego. Poway contends that San Diego has no legal right to keep Pomerado Road blockaded now that a $3-million face lift has removed its hairpin turns and other traffic hazards.

Miller set a Dec. 20 hearing for oral arguments by attorneys on both sides and ordered Poway City Atty. Stephen M. Eckis to submit further evidence on whether Pomerado Road is a major road, and whether it is specified as such in San Diego’s general plan.

“Based upon this issue, the city of Poway feels confident that the judge will order the reopening of Pomerado Road following the hearing of oral arguments on Dec. 20,” John Fitch, Poway’s assistant city manager, said.

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Fitch conceded that Poway officials were “somewhat disappointed” that the judge did not order San Diego to reopen Pomerado Road immediately but said he remains confident that the smaller city will prevail.

The battle over the road, a popular shortcut that bypasses a 3-mile section of Interstate 15 that slows to a crawl during commuting hours, began more than two years ago when San Diego annexed several hundred acres of land north to the Poway city limits.

Pomerado, which runs through the annexed area, was ordered closed after the annexation because the narrow, winding roadway was considered a safety hazard that did not meet city street standards.

Last month--after the San Diego City Council had voted to reopen the newly contructed road, then reversed itself--Poway sued San Diego, contending that the bigger city was violating state motor vehicle codes by blockading a traveled regional route. Local governments may close major roads temporarily for repairs or other safety regions, Poway argued, but cannot keep the roads closed after the safety hazards are removed.

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Les Girard, San Diego deputy city attorney, said Poway’s attorney “is painting the issue all black or white.”

State laws allow a city to take such actions as closing a major road if certain specific actions are taken, Girard said, “and we took those actions in 1988, by amending the Scripps Miramar North community plan to provide that Pomerado Road would remain closed until another major road was completed” that linked Poway with Interstate 15 and San Diego.

“Poway’s problem is that they did not challenge the action at that time,” Girard said, “and now it is too late.”


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