Mission Bay residents file lawsuit against SF over sinking streets, sidewalks

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ByLuz Pena via KGO logo
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
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The streets and sidewalks of San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood is sinking, and residents are suing the city for its safety risks.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco neighborhood is sinking. Residents are waking up to sidewalks and streets with cracks and tiles elevated from the ground. Now, there's a lawsuit against the city.

Before Chase Center and multi-million dollar constructions were going up, San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood was filled with dirt and rock in the 1800s and now some parts of it are sinking.

"The edges around the buildings are I don't know if rising or they are staying steady but the actual streets are sinking," said Leana Lai, Mission Bay Resident.

Leana Lai has lived in the neighborhood for over seven years. Will Corral for 13 years. They are both noticing an increase in cracks on roadways and uneven sidewalks.

"As we are speaking there could be some old lady tripping on one of those elevated tiles," said Will Corral.

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Photos of sinking sidewalks are constantly coming in to the law office of Berding & Weil. Mission Bay residents who have paid for repair work are suing the city and demanding for the sinking sidewalks and roads to get fixed.

"This part of the building is on a big concrete slab. You can see the concrete here and there are piers and those piers go all the way through the Bay filled. The Bay mud fill down to bed rock. So it's solid in place. But this sidewalk doesn't have any piers," said Daniel Rottinghaus, principal attorney at Berding Weil.

In other words, the buildings are safe but the sidewalks and roads will continue to sink.

"In the reports that were done before any of the building happened. They said that there would be as much as 24 inches of sinking over 50 years. We are really less than 10 years into the development and some areas have already sunk more than 18 inches," said Rottinghaus.

Some buildings are trying to fix the uneven sidewalks but the gaps keep getting larger. In a statement San Francisco's City Attorney's office said in part:

"The risk of subsidence was disclosed to all property owners prior to purchase. Also, these sidewalks are private sidewalks that are the responsibility of the property owners to maintain."

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But these attorneys want the city to take responsibility because they say the soil is the main issue.

"Although the city owns the sidewalk the homeowners adjacent actually under the California statue have a duty to maintain and repair it. That goes to the heart of our claim. No homeowner can repair the sidewalk correctly. It's not like you are going to go out and replace a paver. You need to dig deep into the soil, you got to compact it and integrate it with the street," said Scott Mackey, partner at Berding & Weil.

Full statement from the city attorney:

"While this may be a frustrating situation, the City understands that the risk of subsidence was disclosed to all property owners prior to purchase. Also, these sidewalks are private sidewalks that are the responsibility of the property owners to maintain. This rule similarly applies to private sidewalks in the Mission, the Richmond District, and North Beach, and there is no exception for the Mission Bay neighborhood. The City will respond to the lawsuit in the appropriate time and is considering all of its options."

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