Peninsula homeowners blame Caltrain for rising flood insurance

A Peninsula homeowner and her neighbors say Caltrain is to blame for their skyrocketing flood insurance premiums.
March 7, 2014 6:42:18 PM PST
A Peninsula homeowner and her neighbors say Caltrain is to blame for their skyrocketing flood insurance premiums. And they want the rail agency to fix the problem.

The problem lies underneath Caltrain tracks. And the question is -- who's responsible for fixing this flood problem? Homeowners believe it's Caltrain. But Caltrain implies it may be the city of Burlingame. Homeowners may be facing a long, drawn out fight.

If only Carolyn Csongradi knew about the culvert under the Caltrain tracks. It's about a hundred yards away across the street from her home on California Drive. Water from Easton Creek flows through it and into the bay.

Last year, Csongradi had to pay almost $1,800 for flood insurance. And she was told it might jump as much as 25 percent.

"I had no idea I was gonna be facing this kind of precipitous rate increase," Csongradi said.

So she hired civil engineer Alan Huntzinger to find out if maybe her house was high enough to exempt her in the future. He discovered that the culvert was the reason why her home and those of her neighbors could flood.

"The pipeline here where the word culvert appears is too small," Huntzinger said. "It restricts the flow of water so it can't get through."

Word quickly spread.

Everett Herrera lives next door. His flood insurance also skyrocketed. So much that he wants to sell his home after 20 years here.

"There's no question," he said. "I'm thinking very seriously of doing it right now. Because it's my big bill, the biggest bill I got."

But what will these homes sell for now?

"I'm concerned about my real estate investment now," Csongradi said. "It has, I think, a significant chilling effect on what its value is."

She wants Caltrain to build a wider culvert, she contacted them in December. Caltrain said it would investigate.

"In truth, they've not contacted me since," she said.

Caltrain did respond to ABC7 News when we contacted them.

They say they're still investigating but that, "It appears the culvert or other drainage systems that cross under the tracks are not owned or maintained by Caltrain."


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