Residents Suffer Flooding, Erosion and Mud from New Urban Estates and Inadequate Drainage

Neighbors Speak Out at July 28, 2009 Planning Commission Hearing

Commissioner Fernandez Says, Protect Yourself

A 6000+ square foot home was approved over the counter in June 2009.

Planning Commission Vice Chair Margarita McCoy and Commissioner Stefflre called it up for review.

In preparation for the hearing, Staff found that the actual impervious coverage area was 50% more than the Applicant had claimed, and that more drainage features were needed.

Neighbors voiced concerns about a 14,0000 square foot house, completed several years ago, that had inadequate drainage approved by the city, and the property owner piped the runoff onto downstream neighbors until they complained, then redirected it on someone else, resulting in much erosion, loss of property and ill feelings.

The neighbors felt that the proposed new house also had inadequate drainage and would worsen a bad situation.

Residents who spoke about serious drainage problems or damage they have suffered from inadequate drainage.
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Julia Higgs. 40+ year resident. Worked for incorporation. Charles Wolfarth. 40 year resident. On first City Council. Ruth Wolfarth. 40 year resident. Tireless volunteer.
Charles Wolfarth reading a letter from Ray Johnson, long time resident. Boen Thio. 15+ year resident. George Edwards. Co-Founder of FireWatch.
Sue Lung. 40 year resident. Catherine Houwen. 5 year resident. Bill Spruston. 16 year resident.

Federal, State, and City Codes require runoff from new hillside homes to be controlled. No more water can leave the property line than left pre-development, nor can it be concentrated (as in piped off site, or released in a channeled manner that causes erosion), or released in a different direction than pre-development.

The existing 14,000 square foot home and the proposed 6,000 square foot home fail to meet those requirements.

California Building Code (Applicable in LHH) States:
"Drainage across property lines shall not exceed that which existed prior to
grading. Excess or concentrated drainage shall be contained on site or directed
to an approved drainage facility. Erosion of the ground in the area of discharge
shall be prevented by installation of non-erosive down drains or other devices."

Los Angeles County Building Dept (Not applicable in LHH) requirements state:
"Any proposed construction that changes or alters the existing drainage pattern to adjacent (off-site) property requires a
notarized and recorded offsite drainage release covenant or easement from the owner of adjacent property."

Commissioner Ray Fernandez, a self-described home builder, stated that the neighbors needed to protect themselves from runoff, not blame the person up the hill.

Commissioner McCoy asked him to clarify that he meant it was the neighbors' responsibility. Commissioner Fernandez did so affirm, and McCoy was "shocked".


See the 3 minute Video excerpts here and decide for yourself Quicktime | WMV.

Should Builders and Developers be required to take care of drainage as required by law, or should the neighbors shoulder the burden of protecting themselves from new development's effects to help the City Council encourage redevelopment of the Heights to large Urban Estates?