Residents asked to sign waiver before slide work

April 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some frustrated San Pablo residents, whose homes were damaged by a landslide, are meeting over what to do. They feel like they're caught in a bind over who is responsible for repairs to the land to stop further erosion.

Even though it involved private property, the residents impacted want the city to take more responsibility for last month's slide and until that happens, at least some of them say, they will not sign a waiver presented to them by the city's attorneys.

"It doesn't seem like it's a fair document," said Leon Walker, a red-tagged homeowner.

As much as they want to move back into their red-tagged home, San Pablo's Leon and Blanka Walker say they won't sign a waiver from the city that would allow them to do just that.

"Their fix, according to the 25 pages of waiver they gave us, doesn't look like it is going to give us a long-term solution at all. It's something which is maybe going to temporarily hold the house," said Blanka.

Last month, a landslide damaged the Walkers' home and five others. Now, the city is offering to do an interim fix to shore up the homes, but not repair the sliding hillside itself.

"It's a temporary measure, but in exchange for that the homeowners would have to indemnify the city for any problems that arise out of doing that work," said San Pablo Asst. City Manager Kelsey Worthy.

But the homeowners believe the waiver the city wants them to sign would force them to give up all past and future claims regarding the slide issues here and they claim the temporary fix the city is offering is inadequate.

"I want to make absolutely clear that the city has not offered in any way, shape, or form to repair the slide," said homeowner Joe Romey.

San Pablo city leaders say fixing the sliding hill is not their responsibility. The city actually owned this property after it slid in the late 50's, repaired it and then sold it to a private party that put more homes on it.

"If I do a crappy repair on a car for somebody and then sell that, [is] the new owner then liable for the transmission blowing up?" said Romey.

"There's no indication now or from our records we searched or from a geotechnical perspective that the city's responsible or liable for the landside based on any previous work," said Worthy.

Residents are meeting to decide what they want to do. The city has given them just one week, until next Tuesday, to sign the document. If they don't sign it by then, the city will not go ahead with any work.

11 P.M. UPDATE: All six homeowners unanimously decided they needed more time to review the offer.


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