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December winter rain storms costing city more than $6M

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San Francisco is expected to pay more than $6 million for claims filed against The City for damage sustained during two big December storms.

Property owners have filed to date 255 claims against The City, according to City Attorney records, and additional claims could be filed up until this December, when the private property damage statute of limitations runs out.

To date, The City has paid $2.1 million in 155 claims to private property owners and incurred an additional $3.5 million in expenses spent to address the claim or the damage that wasn’t directly paid to claimant, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

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On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee approved the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spending an additional $5 million as the agency has no more
money allocated to pay for
anticipated remaining claims and expenses.

Thirty-three claims remain open. Details of additional expenses were not disclosed. A deputy city attorney provided “a confidential memo to the Board of Supervisors detailing the estimated costs of these claims,” according to a report by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose. “The City Attorney’s Office is unable to disclose the specific amounts of the pending claims due to the confidentiality of active legal cases.”

The report said that the additional $5 million “would be dedicated to pay for the additional claim settlements, legal expenses, litigation, judgements, and other expenses related to the December 2014 storms.” Rose’s report said.

Supervisor Katy Tang asked SFPUC officials what the agency is doing to prepare for the coming winter season when more storms are expected.

“We are looking at hotspots in terms of cleaning catch basins for this winter,”  said Kathy How, the SFPUC’s assistant general manager of infrastructure.

“There are about 700 hotspots where we have to keep an eye on the catch basins. We are also looking at short term solutions and then also long term capital projects potentially for some of these problem areas,” she said.

Most of the claims were filed by property owners at 17th and Folsom streets in the Mission neighborhood and those living on or around Cayuga Avenue, near Glen Park. Both
areas have experienced flooding in the past.

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