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Law firm seeks to stop cleanup of Tijuana River Valley

SOUTH COUNTY – A law firm suing the city for declaring a state of emergency in the Tijuana River Valley and authorizing the removal of tons of debris will seek a temporary restraining order Thursday to stop the work.

Cleanup began last week on the river's flood-control channels, which are filled with sediment and trash after years of accumulation. The work is aimed at preventing a repeat of last December's devastating floods.

The suit alleges that the project did not constitute an emergency under San Diego's municipal codes and that the sole-source contracts awarded for the cleanup work violated city law.

Attorney Mekaela Gladden, on behalf of San Diegans for Open Government, notified the city Wednesday that the group would be asking a judge to stop the cleanup while its Sept. 17 lawsuit is being decided.

San Diego spokesman Alex Roth said the lawsuit is baseless. He said a provision in state environmental law contains an exemption for emergencies.

Gladden works for Briggs Law Corp., whose owner, Cory Briggs, has sued to stop the $21 million cruise-ship terminal at Broadway Pier and the redevelopment of the Navy's downtown San Diego headquarters.

Neither Gladden nor Briggs returned a call for comment. Others were dismayed by the suit.

“It's inconceivable that special interests would oppose clearing the original river channel, damning nearby properties to certain destruction and likely loss of life,” said John Gabaldon, president of the Tijuana River Valley Equestrian Association.

Union-Tribune Staff Writer