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Residents near volatile creek make a plea for flood control

Original post made on Aug 14, 2014

It's been more than 16 years since a flood swept through the homes of Spencenia Sims and her neighbors in East Palo Alto, and the day rarely strays far from their minds come winter time.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 14, 2014, 12:58 AM

Comments (21)

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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:06 am

> In rejecting the project in March, the water board asked for a host
> of new information, including a broad request for "a complete set of
> technical reports and corresponding data."

It would pay for us to know if this Regional Water Board (RWB) has a "pro forma" list of documents, studies, data, etc. that are needed, or required by State/Federal law, in order for projects like this one to progress through the permitting process without "surprises", or other unreasonable delays.

It seems like the RWB (or its staff) are making up the rules as it goes along. Perhaps every project is a different--but this project seems to be taking a very long time for approval, without a lot of explanation as to why it is taking so long.


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Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

"It's been more than 16 years since a flood..."

"I think we all sense the urgency."

Yep.


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Posted by Janet
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 14, 2014 at 11:13 am

Put the creek back where it was originally or buy up all the houses that flood. Levees are not going to cure the problem


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Posted by JoeCommentor
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Ever hear of not 'living in the floodplain'?

Give it a try...

The 'government' (of the people) approved the building (for the people), the 'government' can buy you out (by the people).


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Posted by Stop the Insanity
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Houses should never have been built in the vicinity of the creek, or any flood plain. "100-year floods" now occur approx every 20 years, according to the USGS.

Since those ill-planned neighborhoods obviously aren't going anywhere, and the last "100-year flood" that will now occur every twenty years, was 16 years ago, action needs to start NOW


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Problem is that FEMA revised the flood plane maps (broadened the potential flood areas, and upgraded the existing zones from 100yr to 50 yr, etc.) just as the 1989 flood hit the area. In other words, many of the homes in the risk areas pre-exist the revised flood maps.


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Posted by A-Little-History-Please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm

> Houses should never have been built in the vicinity of the
> creek, or any flood plain.

Unfortunately, housing started being built in Palo Alto around 1892, or so. Creek flooding was probably unknown to those who were building the houses. It wasn't until about 1955 that a really big flood came along--and by then, a lot of homes, and businesses had been built in the flood plain.


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Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Years and years and years were spent and millions of dollars on San Francisquito Creek. Enough is enough. Just another way to spend taxpayer money to do something that has a very low probability of occuring.


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Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Aug 14, 2014 at 1:09 pm

In a year of historical drought, people want to talk about spend money on protecting from flood... Where is water going to come from?


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm

@DZ - That's a perplexing comment. Droughts aren't permanent, and it is also possible to flood during a drought. The creek almost overflowed two years ago, during the drought.


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Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Uh, jerry -- you would also be the first person to complain LOUDLY were there to be a flood.

You can't have it both ways.

And better to prepare than to let a situation slide.


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Posted by Allen Veaner
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Some time back--maybe 25 or so years ago, Arthur Yablonky, a Stanford grad student, drowned in the San Francisquito Creek during a flash flood, leaving his young wife a widow. Sudden downpours are more or less the norm in the American Southwest. True, it would be better not to build in that creek's vicinity but we ought to be protecting those who, through no fault of their own, already live there. I'm sure they didn't build their homes in that location.

Allen V., former P.A. resident


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Posted by Allen Veaner
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Some time back--maybe 25 or so years ago, Arthur Yablonky, a Stanford grad student, drowned in the San Francisquito Creek during a flash flood, leaving his young wife a widow. Sudden downpours are more or less the norm in the American Southwest. True, it would be better not to build in that creek's vicinity but we ought to be protecting those who, through no fault of their own, already live there. I'm sure they didn't build their homes in that location.

Allen V., former P.A. resident


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I believe that was a sporting accident in the sixties.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:26 pm

A Public Notice appeared in the SJM that the listed creeks were going to be cleared of existing silt prior to winter. Three creeks in PA listed - but not San Francisquito Creek. The "creek" starts at Searsville Lake at Jasper Ridge - Stanford. The lake clean-up is still an unresolved issue. But if you look at the creek just below 101 at the bridge it has silt build up and excess vegetation. That is something the cities can resolve immediately since there is a lot of earth moving going on in that vicinity for the Athletic Center. There is also excess vegetation in the creek on the sides - this all comes out during flooding and compacts at the bridges and results in further flooding. Why is it so hard for the city of PA, Menlo Park, and East PA to get in there and clear the creek? Removing excess vegetation is a start, and removing excess silt. JUST DO IT. Put a date in the paper and ask volunteers to come help do this. THEY WILL COME.


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Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 1:10 am

Allen - Yablonsky drowned 45 years ago on a raft in the creek, because he got stuck in the raft's ropes.


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 15, 2014 at 5:42 pm

@resident 1 - You'd probably be arrested by the feds for interfering with the breeding habits of the salt marsh harvest mouse. You need an environmental impact report, two lawsuits, and a briefcase of bribes to get anything done.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 15, 2014 at 8:50 pm

I am talking about the creek between El Camino and 101 - it needs to be clean of excess vegetation. In Adobe Creek they bring in a group of trucks and scoop up the stuff and haul it away. This is a recognized flood control area. The creek just below 101 has excess silt - this has nothing to do with the mouse - the silt is being pushed upward from the bay during high tide. So get rid of it. The mouse will be overjoyed. The mouse does not live in the creek - he lives in the baylands on solid ground. The mouse is not looking forward to mismanagement of the baylands and flooding - he prefers to be safe on dry ground with fresh water that flows downward to the bay - not salt water that moves upward from the bay. If we do not clear the silt the water cannot move out and empty into the bay.
The Mouse is looking to us for his support. He is a Palo Alto Mouse.


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Posted by Old Paly Stone Cold Player
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

Certain environmentalists associated with the Complete the Refuge are the ones that torpedoed us at the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. You would think our representative on the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Brian Schmidt would help us fix the creek. My understand is that he is so close to the friends at Complete the Refuge including the deal killer Florence LaRiviere, that Brian tipped the staff off on how to jam us up getting the creek fixed.

You might want to look at his opponent in the upcoming race - Web Link

He is endorsed by the majority of the Palo Alto City Council and the School Board. I guess they don't think Schmidt the incumbent is doing a good job.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Just a little Trivia: According to City manager Jim Keene, Who spoke at a recent meeting, the city is running a deficit of $1,000,000 for the delay of the project.The $1,000,000 was for payment for incoming dirt for the levees. Most likely coming from John Arriagas' Stanford projects.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 23, 2014 at 8:31 am

Stanford's big argument for not cleaning up Searsville Lake was the expense of hauling away the silt. Note that this is not salt water silt - this is high grade fresh water silt. Many responses on how it did not make sense financially to clean up Searsville Lake. Such hand wringing over the expense.

And now the argument is no dirt because no money.
Where is the logic in all of this - start clearing the silt from Searsville lake and haul it down to where needed in the bayland levees where needed.
It is unclear why Stanford and Palo Alto cannot work together to manage the creek from end to end for the benefit of all.
Someone must work for the insurance companies that are getting paid big bucks for flood insurance.


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