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Save San Francsquito Creek- Make it a Strip Park with hiking trails

Original post made by Richard, Charleston Gardens, on Nov 10, 2006

Enviromentalists should be clamoring to demand that the boundries/banks be widened and a trail built along it from East Palo Alto city limits to and thru Portola Valley. The Corps of Engineers could take 20 years to do anything and no telling what they will do or have planned. The City and the Water District could take action to aquire the land the creek flows thru and additional land at the top of the banks. Apparently the people who live along the creek own the land to the middle of the creek and expect the city and water district to take care of it and do work, at taxpayers expense, to keep it from flooding. Widening the creek near the top of the bank and perhaps building a berm or small dike should increase the capacity to prevent flooding. Implementing Santa Clara County Measure "A" type of restrictions on what can be done or is allowed near the creek should speed up implementing changes to the land along the creek. This may take a city election to pass these restrictions. A large majority of residents would not be affected by such a ordance so it should easily pass. Please make comments and suggestions. New ideas and actions are needed to speed things up on this major problem.

Comments (11)

Posted by joyce
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2006 at 4:49 am

Trust me, the neighbors near the creek would love to reduce the risk of flooding, but the government has sat on its behind for eight years "studying" the situation and blocking any substantial action instead of removing the biggst problem, the Chaucer St bridge. (Do you think we like flooded homes?) You must be new to town, or you would know this history.

Posted by Richard
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 10, 2006 at 2:26 pm

It is interesting to hear that the only reason the creek floods in Palo Alto it the Chaucer St. bridge. Maybe it was meant that that is the city or public owned property along the creek that could cause flooding. Are all the other properties privately owned. I know for sure that the city does not go on private property to do any work,etc.. I inquied about this and was told in no uncertain terms that the did not and would not go on private property even though something might happen that would endanger the public. Any property owner can be held responsible for damage to others (the public) because the property owner did not fix the problem on his property. Thus if property owners along the creek bear the responsibility to prevent flooding from their property or they can be sued by those who are flooded. I agree the Chaucer St. bridge should be removed and the street closed and a dike built on the City owned property in that and other City owned property. It's not clear what the Water/Flood Control District should do when the voters in the area (North Palo Alto) voted down the action they wanted to take in the distant past.

Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2006 at 5:27 am

If you'd actually look at the creek where it overflowed in 1998, you'd know it was the bridge that was the problem. Concreting the creek, which you seem to think we should not have voted down, is an environmental abomination and would not help anyway. Try to inform yourself in depth about issues.

Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2006 at 5:28 am

By the way, the city can and does do work in the creek, regardless of the middle of the creek nonsense.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 12, 2006 at 11:12 am

I think it would be nice to have a park surrounding the creek through Palo Alto. Judging by the posts on this board though, that seems quite far away.

With all do respect to the easily offended, I remember the most serious flooding occuring near Oregan Exp. and 101, was it really bad around the Chaucer Bridge too? Was it worse on the PA side than in Menlo?


Posted by Art
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2006 at 2:47 pm

Most of the water that left the creek in 1998 came out at the Chaucer Street bridge. Because the elevation is higher at the creek, the water that reached St.Francis and Oregon came out of the creek at Chaucer almost all in Palo Alto. There was significant damage on Hamilton,Forest,Desoto Drive,St Francis and other locations. A total of $28M damage was done in Palo Alto. A suit by 20 people was settled for $3.5M. If there is another 1998-level flood before the Army Corps of Engineers completes their $100M+ project in 40 years, the city of Palo Alto will be sued for at least $50M because the Chaucer Street bridge diverts water from the natural course of the creek, the city who designed and built the bridge is liable as demonstrated by similar suits in California.
Before we consider building parks and walks, we must get the Chaucer Street bridge replaced with one that does not divert water from the creek or the there will be no money for parks and walks or libraries, new police stations, etc.

Posted by J
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2006 at 8:51 pm

Unfortunately, global warming will be a factor in the flooding, too. I lived right there by the Chaucer St. bridge in early February of 1998, and I was there with the rest of the neighborhood, watching the water level come up. Just after midnight, the tide came in, affecting the already over-full San Francisquito as it headed for the Baylands. That's when the flooding began.

In the coming years -- we don't know how many -- if the polar caps melt, oceans are going to rise and the tide will be coming in higher and higher. (We all saw Al Gore's depiction of this in An Inconvenient Truth.) In 1998, we called it a 50-year flood (or was it a 100-year flood?), but with the bay creeping toward Middlefield, it appears we can expect steadily increasing frequencies, and we need to begin preparing for that reality.

Of course, it would be even better if we could all work to reduce our carbon emissions -- maybe drive a little less, get out of our SUVs -- and try to quell climate change and prevent the oceans from rising.

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Posted by J
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2006 at 9:43 am

In an earlier post, Mike from Old Palo Alto wrote:

"...I remember the most serious flooding occuring near Oregan Exp. and 101, was it really bad around the Chaucer Bridge too? Was it worse on the PA side than in Menlo?"

If you were to look at a very detailed topo map of the area around 101, Willow Road in MP, going west up to the Chaucer St. bridge and south as far as 101, you would see that the Menlo Park side of the creek is slightly higher than the PA side. The water rose out of the stream bed around the bridge and flowed downhill, through Crescent Park and across Channing, toward Embarcadero and Oregon (which come together at 101). It's a long, gradual slope from Chaucer St. to that 101/Embarcadero/Oregon intersection. Also, remember the tide -- it was coming up from the Baylands that morning, so that's why people on that downhill line between Chaucer bridge and 101 were under water.

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