Los Laureles Canyon: Research in Action Premieres Fall 2009

In collaboration with Keith Pezzoli, at UCSD’s Urban Studies and Planning program and others, Shannon is producing on a documentary about watershed planning and sustainable development in Los Laureles, a canyon that starts high in Tijuana, crosses the U.S.-Mexican border and ends at the Tijuana River Estuary in Imperial Beach, California. Some 65,000 people live in Los Laureles, and because of inadequate infrastructure, much of their waste flows unrestricted down the canyon into the estuary, threatening the wildlife that depend on its pristine wetlands for survival.

The UCSD-TV crew in Los Laureles Canyon. From left to right: Willie Wiliams,
Harry Caruso, Rachel Bradley, Laura Castañeda, Matt Alioto, Shannon Bradley

Notice Laura Castañeda in the group? We’re delighted to have her back with us on this project after her compelling and courageous documentary, The Devil’s Breath: Border Crossers caught in San Diego’s Wildfires (2008)

Interview with Producer Shannon Bradley for Quarry Falls

UCSD-TV: What sparked your interest in Quarry Falls?

Shannon Bradley: I heard a story about the San Diego River Park Foundation getting a donation of 17 acres right on the river in Mission Valley and I couldn’t believe it. How in the world does a non-profit get a gift like that? Land that was zoned for a 30-story hotel? So that’s where it started. Then I found out the landowners also owned the 230-acre quarry across Friars Road that was slated for development. And when I looked at the plans for the site, I was impressed by what they wanted to do there. So that became our story: how the landowners would go about building support for their plan to turn the quarry into a mixed-use development and in the process, donating the 17 acres to the River Park Foundation.

UCSD-TV: When you hear the words “sand and gravel mine,” a livable space is not
usually what comes to mind. What makes this site ideal for development?

SB: Because the quarry site is in the exact center of San Diego! Literally the heart of Mission Valley! It’s close to everything. And the whole mantra of smart growth is to reduce the distance people must travel between home, work, school, and recreation…

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Interview with Producer Shannon Bradley for Devil’s Breath

UCSD-TV: What was your role as executive producer?

Shannon Bradley: Laura Castaneda brought this wonderful story to UCSD-TV and I had the privilege of providing a second pair of eyes to the script and helping her shape it for our audience.

UCSD-TV: Why did you choose the documentary format to tell this story?

SB: Because Laura had this amazing footage of the people who actually lived through this tragedy, some having been burned themselves and others who had lost loved ones in the firestorm. Her interviews with those who were directly affected presented the story in a much more compelling way than had she just recounted to camera what she had learned in her reporting…

Read the Entire Interview