Mike Koozmin/2013 S.F. Examiner file photoAn intersection at 15th and Wawona

Mike Koozmin/2013 S.F. Examiner file photoAn intersection at 15th and Wawona

$4M settlement approved for victims of burst pipe

San Francisco is poised to pay up to $4 million in damage claims related to the Feb. 27 water main rupture that damaged 25 homes and several cars in the West Portal neighborhood.

Meanwhile, city repairs to the neighborhood’s infrastructure remain ongoing following the break at 15th Avenue and Wawona Street.

Anticipating a number of costly damage claims — 27 have been filed to date with the City Attorney’s Office — San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Harlan Kelly had requested pre-approval for awarding up to $4 million to those impacted to expedite the claims process.

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee approved the request.

“For various reasons, many of these property owners’ insurance companies have not responded by providing financial assistance for immediate restoration of properties,” Kelly wrote in a May 13 memo to committee members. “Damage to some of these properties is such that the owner must pay out funds for consultants and/or construction contractors in order to obtain permits for repairs, and cannot obtain those funds through property loans because of the condition of the
property.”

Three of the damaged homes were yellow–tagged, allowing residents to remain but under restricted access, and three were red-tagged, meaning they were deemed unsafe for occupancy upon review by the Department of Building Inspection.

The SFPUC expects work on repairing the infrastructure to continue until August. Steve Richie, assistant general manager for water, said the extent of the damage to private property and The City’s liability remains under examination.

“We do not have an estimated dollar amount yet,” Richie said. “We are just getting to a point of starting work on evaluation of the homes for restoration purposes. This neighborhood has had settlement problems in the past, so it’s going to be a little bit of a challenging process to work through what was caused by us and what is naturally occurring there.”

The legislation authorizing the $4 million requires the SFPUC to submit at least every six months reports on the claims or litigation resulting from the break.

The incident occurred about 3 a.m. Feb. 27 when a 16-inch water transmission pipeline running underground between West Portal Avenue and Wawona Street ruptured. The water flow was too great to be controlled by the area’s catch basins and the neighborhood flooded.

The cause of the rupture remains under investigation, SFPUC spokeswoman Alison Kastama said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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