City Dismisses Preventative Flooding Ideas

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In response to my letter published in the Indy Oct 9 regarding El Niño flood preparedness, I was contacted by Public Works Director Steve May. His email told me that council member Rob Zur Schmiede and city manager John Pietig had asked him to meet with me about my concerns as to possible canyon flooding.

Mr. May was punctual and professional.  We had a short conversation about my concerns and the two proposals I offered to mitigate damage if indeed this is to be the “Godzilla” El Niño that has been widely predicted.

He said “no” to both proposals. In fairness to Mr. May, I never felt that during our discussion we were on the same page. However I am alarmed that all the city’s efforts are directed towards response rather than at prevention.

Neither proposal is expensive or permanent. I am now appealing to the City Council’s sensibility and collective common sense.

Proposal 1. An enormous amount of run off is collected on the pavement of Laguna Canyon Road. What doesn’t end up in the storm drains eventually flows into Canyon Acres Drive or Woodland Drive, where they intersect with the Canyon Road. Both roads are considerably lower than Laguna Canyon Road and the drainage channel. I asked Mr. May to create a temporary asphalt berm similar to a speed bump at both intersections. The berms would run parallel to the canyon road and effectively join the curbs on both sides together. This would ensure a continuous flow of water down the canyon rather than down hill into the adjoining communities. I was told there wasn’t enough time.

I have witnessed two speed bumps installed on Laguna frontage road in two mornings.

Proposal 2. The undersides of bridges over the flood control channel in Laguna Canyon are not flush with the top rim of the channel walls. Some bridges extend 18 inches bellow the rim, compromising the channel’s carrying capacity. The city is well aware of this deficiency. A study commissioned by the O.C. Environmental Management Agency in June 1988 said this in reference to a 100-year storm: “nine access bridges crossing the channel constrict the flow…. Flows greater than 2,300 cfs will over top the first bridge. If improvements were to be made to this bridge the water would over top the next bridge.”

This prediction was written 27 years ago. No improvements have been made.

I suggested sand bags along the east side of the channel so that over topping would be directed toward the Canyon Road and away from the low lying residences. Mr. May dismissed the suggestion saying that sand bags would be washed away.

Sand bag leveeing is used consistently and its success speaks for itself.

Please consider these two proposals. If the Council errs, let it be on the side of caution.

Michael Hallinan, Laguna Beach

President Thurston Home Owners Assoc.

Board Member CANDO



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