Landslide threat prompts owners to sue

Homeowners are threatening to sue the county to force it to repair three surface landslides jeopardizing 20 homes at the base of San Bruno Mountain, one of several slides causing continued problems around the county in the wake of heavy spring rains.

The homeowners, members of the Bay Vista Homeowners Association, fear that this autumn's rains could trigger more slides damaging their homes or worse, according to their attorney, Kevin Frederick.

“Our concerns are that as the homeowners look out their backdoor they can see these [slides] so they are worried they will come down,” Frederick said.

The slides at Bay Ridge Drive and Acacia Street, at least one of which is on county land, occurred during the record-setting rains that drenched the Bay Area this spring, Frederick said. Since February, the neighborhood has been pushing for repairs, at an estimated cost of around $75,000, going to the property owner, housing developer, city of Daly City and the county, Frederick said.

Both Daly City and San Mateo County have denied claims filed by the homeowners association. With few options left, the homeowners are considering suing, Frederick said.

Elsewhere in the county, a disagreement over who is responsible for fixing a growing crack in Marburger Lane in Belmont has residents along that street also considering legal action against the city. The city has argued residents are responsible for road maintenance.

The street has deteriorated enough since the spring rains that firetrucks will not pass down it, creating a safety hazard.

“We're really, really hoping they do the right thing and just stabilize the crack,” said Molly Samietz, who has lived with her husband on the street for 18 years, conducting some basic road maintenance during that time.

Residents on MacArthur Drive in Broadmoor Village have also spoken to attorneys about potential litigation against the developers of a new house at 606 Larchmont Drive, which began sliding downhill toward their street in April. The developers of the Larchmont Drive house were also considering suing a geotechnical engineer who in 2001 conducted soil reports and assessment work before construction.

Representatives of both parties were unavailable for comment yesterday.

Claims for landslide repairs are routinely denied because that sets the clock ticking for the claimant to file a lawsuit within six months, county Public Works Department Director Neil Cullen said. If pursued, the claim can then be settled through insurance, he said.

Cullen said the county believes water jumping from a concrete-lined ditch above the Daly City properties caused at least one of those slides.

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