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Public asked for help on SF Creek priorities

Original post made on Mar 20, 2008

San Francisquito Creek planners are asking the public to help select a "mini-fix" for the creek rather than await a federal overall flood-control project. The locally funded fix could be started as soon as 2011, practically tomorrow in the decades-long time scale that has governed creek project progress.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 20, 2008, 10:37 AM

Comments (20)

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Posted by Outraged!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2008 at 12:30 pm

This is incredible! Seven+years we pay some bureaucrat hundred thousand dollars year to run around and go to meetings and tell us the federal government is going to take care of all this and we shouldn't take any part of the solution ourselves. Now for reasons not exactly clear (and will probably never be revealed by the Weekly) this person is gone--and all of a sudden the city wants residents to come up with ideas.

Residents have come up with ideas ---- about five years ago a group living near the creek (including a retired physicists and a working hydrologist) research the creek problem and came up did hydride hydrologic mapping, simulation and several very good ideas for mitigations. The city immediately ignored all of these ideas.

Why do we have to go through this all again? there are lots of things that could be done, which have already been submitted to the city for time and time again. Why isn't all of this in the files of the non-departed JPA honcho?

This is an insult of the first-order. Whether this is the work of the City Manager, or the Assistant City Manager is not clear--but for people to have to go through this process one more time demonstrates how utterly detached the City Manager's office has become.

Hopefully that group from the Crescent Park area will get their plans out and make their voices very loudly heard. While there were other ideas in addition to theirs', those ideas should be given a good hard look by the City before it starts this process over again.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 20, 2008 at 12:50 pm

1: Blow up the dang bridge that obstructs the flow.
2: Request the early retirement of whomever in the city government should have done this right after the last flood.
3: Tell Washington we are sorry we distracted them from the really important work they are doing.

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Posted by rules of the game
a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2008 at 9:08 pm


The rules of this challenge state that you can't cause new flooding downstream. Blowing up Chaucer Street bridge will cause areas downstream to be flooded that aren't currently in danger. Try again.

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Posted by stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 20, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Rules has it a little wrong - in fact, the rule in California law is that one cannot cause flooding of upstream properties to protect downstream ones. The Chaucer bridge violates this principle. I believe this the reason the city settled the Hanna et al suit. On the other hand, it doesn't seem like it is very useful to contemplate partial solutions that have significant negative consequences for some who live along the Creek. It does seem good that the JPA communities may finally have come around to the view that they if they really want to solve the problem of Creek flooding, they may have to do so with their own resources.

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 20, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Listen up City Council. San Francisquito is our a LIVING ENVIRONMENT. If you want to do something about the environment, forget the green house gases (which are coming from China) and take care of business right here. This is our environment. FIX THE CREEK.

PS Take a look at the evening news - and the Midwest flooding. Get a good look then go back and rethink the City's so-called 'priorities'. And while you are at it, public safety - like freedom from home burglaries - should also be a top priority.

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Posted by a Palo Alto parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 21, 2008 at 6:28 am

It's not like humans haven't been dealing effectively with flood-prone waterways for hundreds and even thousands of years. The first and most obvious solutions are to redesign the problematic bridge on Chaucer, and then to construct some kind of sink hole in a strategic place that could contain flood waters if and when they rose. If we're going to have the resources of medieval peasants, we need to think like medieval peasants and be clever and practical. Most of our elementary school-aged kids could probably solve this one.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2008 at 7:04 am

I rest my case.

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Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2008 at 8:04 am

It is of interest to note that in the past year East Palo Alto took some initiative and actually got some flood protection from the creek done on its own, while Palo Alto continued to stand by helplessly. The levees by the creek that protect EPA from a Katrina-like situation were seriously undermined by rodents, etc., and so EPA went to the state and got emergency funding to fix the levees. Ironically, though, they were not allowed to raise the levees beyond their original levels. The regional and state officials would not allow that, even though raising them by a foot or two would then have paved the way for further improvements upstream, such as widening Chaucer. The reason? It would have undercut the cost-benefit ratio of the long range, total flood solution that they hope some day to get from the Corps of Engineers.

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Posted by Art Kraemer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2008 at 11:25 am

The whole reach from El Camino to the bay could be protected from a 1998 flood level of 7200cfs by replacing the Chaucer Steet bridge, increacing the capacity of the bridge under 101, and raising the banks a few feet in a few places between Chaucer and the bay. Such a project fits all the evaluation criteria. The money to do this can come from the property tax increase voted in Measure B of 2000. This measure provides $25M+ anually to the Santa Clara Water District for 15 years. Although the San Francisquito Creek was only one of five projects to be cooved under Measure B, there should be ample funds to cover the project suggested above. We've been paying for it now for 8 years. It's about time for some real actions.

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Posted by Jose
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2008 at 5:35 pm

1. If you watch the news even National, you will see floods are seasonal. A regular street sign would do the job. The other is every city has community classes on safety due to environment.
San Mateo has problems with summer heat, car smog, cold nights, bugs.
Fire season? Is that really an open barbeque pit in the local park? Was it a open fire pit where there was no garden hose available? Is that an open candle set for "Romantic Dinners","Energy Conservation","Power outage".
Did you know not to open the windows at night when people are sleeping just to smoke a cigar? Even stay up past 11pm? Even call people over, after 9pm?

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Posted by Rick
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 23, 2008 at 1:54 am

Since the city(s) haven't fixed or taken out the bridge it occurs to me that they want the city to be responsible for the flooding. Then city money can be given to those flooded to update, remodel their houses.
If property owners along the creek allow flooding they can be held responsible for the damages just like the city was in the '98 flood.

The city in not removing the bridge allows this city property to act as a gate for flood water to escape and the city to be responsible.

The people who own propert right along the creek should realize that they can be held responsible for allowing flooding. Maybe a class action suit could be made by those who are flooded and not own the creek property.

I have been told by city employees that they never enter private property to do any work no matter what dangers to the public may be present. This must apply to creek work.

People who own property should be glad to give it away as it is a tremondus liability to own it in case of flooding.

Widening the creek seems like a simple solution.

An assesment district of property owners in the flood zone should be set up to fix the flooding problem as it is private property that will benifit. Almost all of the properties are multimillion dollar properties and tax payers who don't live in the flood zone shouldn't have to be taxed to fix propblems in the flood zone.

The city should only be involved in low cost things like putting up signs at street corners to show the height of possible flood waters and maybe some type of rezoning to prevent more flood prone housing or even remodeling . All limited to public safety and warnings in the flood zone.

It's obvious that the more development in Portola Valley, Woodside, etc the higher the flood waters are going to be in Palo Alto and there seems to be no liability on their part for creating the flooding downstream.

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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2008 at 8:10 am

There are common sense solutions to the flooding problems that seem to be ignored because of the lure of a grand federal rescue. Some combination of upstream retention and downstream relief seems indicated. The failure to initiate these steps is government malpractice, and probably lawsuit evidence that the city didn't even try to reduce the flooding risk. But hey, look at the artwork wrapping City Hall!

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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2008 at 11:42 pm

A ballot measure may be necessary to protect the taxpayers who don't live in the flood zone from a massive ($100-$200 million) lawsuit from the people who do live in the flood zone if a major flood occurrs. (100 to 200 year flood or climate change causing heavy rains like in other parts of the country-world)

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Posted by Gary
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2008 at 9:25 am

The best priority just happended. The Board sacked the Executive Director of the JPA. Or if they didn't exactly fire her they were about to.

Now we can get on with doing what we should have back in 1998: have a real JPA that can do something. Will the Board keep her D'Agosta's "brother" Kevin Murrau on the payroll. I don't think so they were a package deal but then again Murray may be the new Executive Director of the JPA but we just don't know it.

They covered it up so long I think it will continue.

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Posted by Dennis
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2008 at 9:35 am

This Kevin Murray is certainly next in-line. He knows the job or knows D'Agosta. By the way, Kevin Murray is D'Agosta's son, not brother. He should get the job on the merit of that alone.

He's a professional with almost eight year's on the payroll.

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Posted by Jennifer Joo
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 24, 2008 at 3:40 pm

We never will know the reason why D'Agosta left. The first respondent is correct (the PA Weekly will never reveal it). Why? Because there are friends to protect at the JPA (D'Agosta)and in the ranks of it's look-the-other-way Board of Directors (Mossar and others.)

Forget about the hard-hitting nature of this newspaper. These journal-lists aren't objective. They withold the facts in the same way the JPA hides them.

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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Any outfit that fired my sister would whistle Dixie before they got me to work for them. I won't even eat Blue Diamond almonds today and it was 25 years ago when they laid my sis off.

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Posted by Art Kraemer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2008 at 5:07 pm

To set the record straight, Kevin Murray is Cynthia D'Agosta's nephew, not son or brother. He doesn't have the experience to be the next director, and certainly is not the automatic next in line. He does, however, have working knowledge of the present complicated interactions between the JPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the JPA's five members; and cetainly would be of value to the next director.

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Posted by tom
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 25, 2008 at 5:42 am

I've been to my share of JPA meetings. I've seen this Murray in action. He's weak. The selection of him as the next Executive Director would be an poor choice when there are so many others that could do the job better without all the baggage of nepotism.

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Posted by Doug
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Since you live where it has flooded before, you can pretty much count on it flooding again.

The USACE has its problems, but over all they are a hard working organization. But if you wait for the USACE to complete a review, study, analysis, design, engineering, funding and then finally construction you're looking at a decade or more to get any level of protection in place. That's just how long it takes. With delays the cost escalates and the protection gets pushed further and further into the future. In the mean time flooding continues and the cost of damage and lost commerce grows.

There are now temporary flood barrier systems that can be ready for deployment in weeks instead of years. They are robust, effective and extremely flexible in their application and deployment. Millions of dollars can be saved while waiting for the major projects to be completed. You can learn more about one such system at

60% of the damage from severe weather is caused by floodwater and 75% of that damage is caused by water that is less than 3' deep. Waiting for the major project completion may be the most foolish thing we can do when over 50% of the damage can be avoided in just a few weeks at such a low capital cost.

Let us show you the system that can change the pain of waiting into a productive action plan.

Best regards,

Douglas Shackelford


5312 43rd St NW

Washington, DC 20015

202 537 1388 - O

202 262 5222 - C

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