Westlake residents ask state for flood-relief funds 

Westlake residents who still remember the last round of floods in the Vista Grande Watershed are asking state legislators for funds to prevent future disasters.

Flooding in the Vista Grande area has occurred for more than three decades, damaging property in Daly City and San Francisco and prompting multiple lawsuits.

Daly City and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which threatened to sue its neighbor to the south over the flooding issue last September, are in discussions about short- and long-term solutions.

A tentative short-term agreement reached between the two would establish an escrow fund, essentially a rainy-day account, to which Daly City would contribute and San Francisco could tap into to repair John Muir Drive if and when it floods, said Tony Winnicker, the spokesman for The City’s Public Utilities Commission, describing the discussions as "very productive."

Daly City’s lease on the Vista Grande canal has been extended through the end of this month, he added. Daly City representatives could not be reached for comment as of press time.

In the longer term, the cost for flooding improvements in the area could range from $118 million to $165 million depending on which of three routes Daly City chooses for a new drainage conduit. Potential sites include: running along John Muir Drive to north of Fort Funston, cutting under the Olympic Club and emptying south of Fort Funston or following John Daly Boulevard and emptying at Thornton State Beach.

Two lawsuits have been filed by members of 49 households in Daly City seeking damages stemming from a Feb. 25, 2004 flood that cost Richard Swan, a resident who runs his construction materials business out of Westpark Drive home, roughly $200,000, he said.

"What’s more important is to light a fire under the various parties around here to get this drainage problem solved," said Swan, who backs the Thornton Beach proposal.

In the meantime, some residents have asked state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, to help get state funds for a project to expand stormwater drainage capacity in the area. Yee has agreed to meet with them tonight.

Yee said that with the recent rain-associated problems in Daly City and Broadmoor Village, the specter has been raised of further damage in the flooding area.

"It’s absolutely horrible that your life savings that you put into your home could be washed away like that," Yee said. "Ultimately it is [Daly City’s] responsibility to take care of this particular issue."

The meeting is tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at the Doelger Center, 101 Lake Merced Blvd.


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