San Mateo residents demand changes from city after torrential January rain, flooding

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
San Mateo residents demand changes after torrential rain, flooding
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San Mateo residents are demanding changes to the city's infrastructure after torrential January rain flooded neighborhoods.

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- For San Mateo resident Alex Cwirko-Godycki, 2023 got off to anything but a good start. Back on New Year's Eve when the Bay Area was hit with torrential rains, his entire neighborhood flooded.

"Cars were totaled. All of our garages were flooded. And you couldn't see front lawns. It was basically a river," Cwirko-Godycki said.

Cwirko-Godycki estimates the damages to his property to be around $60,000.

And he's not alone.

All around the city, many people faced similar issues.

Rich Cranz is one of them.

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On Monday, he joined dozens of other residents at the San Mateo City Council meeting calling on leaders to take action about a local lagoon.

"The lagoon is now filled up with siltation, and there's no more buffer left for water," Cranz said.

At the meeting, residents passionately called on the city council to not only dredge the lagoon, but also to take other immediate steps to improve San Mateo's infrastructure.

Traditionally, flooding only happened in the eastern part of San Mateo, like along the lagoon.

But as the climate changes, city officials and residents alike both worry that it'll continue to spread throughout the whole city.

"The earth is warming. There's El Nino coming. We're just worried that this is going to happen again," Cwirko-Godycki said.

MORE: Rising sea levels putting more U.S. cities at increased risk of flooding, researchers say

Mayor Amourence Lee says she supports much of what city residents are asking for.

She and other members of the council are considering an $8 a month stormwater fee to help raise funds.

An idea that would need to be approved by voters.

"I'm committed to working with the entire council and all community stakeholders that have a vested interest in solving this and really building out sustainable infrastructure," Lee said.

For many people in attendance Monday night, though, that proposal isn't enough. They say they want solutions, and they want them now.

"Yes, they have some measures on the table, but we think it's too little too slow," Cwirko-Godycki said.

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