Homeowner wrestles with city over flood-prone property

March 29, 2010 6:56:33 PM PDT
With wet weather on the way to the Bay Area, these are anxious times once again for a Richmond homeowner, stuck with a piece of property that has flooded dozens of times. And while city leaders admit it's their problem, they have not done anything yet to fix it.

"What our property is, is a virtual catch basin for the city's defective drainage system," says Richmond homeowner Jason Myers.

Myers figures his home has been flooded 30 times in the past seven years.

That is how long he has lived at the end of Van Fleet Avenue. It is a house Myers bought in an estate sale with no disclosures required, so no one told him about the flooding during high tide and heavy storms.

"Basically, what will happen is the water will start coming down the gutters. On the other side of this fence is the drainage inlet -- a two-foot pipe that takes on six city streets of water," says Myers.

"I'm really sympathetic to what he's going through. It can't be easy," says Richmond city manager Bill Lindsay.

Lindsay says the drainage problem dates back 30 years.

"The problem is not storm water going out draining to the bay, it's bay water that's actually going back through the pipe," says Lindsay.

After a lawsuit, the city did pay Myers and some neighbors $50,000 for "historic damage," but the settlement did not address the problem going forward.

"It's a health hazard. You can take the mold, mildew, whatever, but we get whatever's in the bay. The Cosco Busan oil spill in 2007 was in front of our gutter," says Myers.

Although the water has never actually made it into the living area of Jason Myers' house, the flooding has destroyed its value.

Myers paid $268,000 for the house in 2003. Now, the assessed value is $63,000.

"So we're literally and figuratively underwater in this property," says Myers.

The city is treading water, not sure what or if any repair to make. They do not want to pay more to fix the drainage than Myers' house is worth.


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