Wednesday, May 2, 2012

(San Mateo County) Report urges emergency repairs for Pescadero flooding

Half Moon Bay Review - by Mark Noack - Pescadero residents for years have pleaded for something to be done to solve the town’s annual flooding problem, but a logjam of government agencies has continued to stall any action, according to a new San Mateo County Grand Jury report released Tuesday. The report examined 25 years of worsening conditions along Butano Creek, which typically overflows during the winter months onto Pescadero Creek Road. In recent years the flooding has meant the town’s main road is unusable for days, cutting off access for tourist traffic and emergency vehicles. The current conditions are “unsafe and unacceptable”, the report concluded. As a solution, the grand jury recommended immediate action to clear excess silt and vegetation along the creek bed, which should let the river flow more quickly out to sea. Taking this action might not be simple, the report acknowledges, because a hodgepodge of state and federal agencies maintain oversight of the coastal watershed. Moving through the full gauntlet of agencies could take three years or more. But the grand jury could find no instance when the county had applied for any permits to repair the problem. To speed things up, the report recommends the county declare the flooding to be an emergency, which would allow repairs to be done immediately. The litany of permits would still be necessary, but could be obtained retroactively. The grand jury report singled out the California State Parks department for being particularly unhelpful in its investigation. Two State Parks officials had declined to appear before the grand jury. State Parks is currently embroiled in litigation over its management of the Pescadero Marsh, which some allege is the root problem that has caused the flooding to worsen in recent years.

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