Levy could avert dangerous waters

San Mateo officials say they don’t have the $2.6 million to repair the levees; Foster City officials say the levees are not their problem to fix. With tens of thousands of residents caught in the middle, one viable solution for property owners may be to tax themselves to avoid buying expensive flood insurance.

Officials from Foster City, whose levees are in relatively pristine condition, recently said the city will work with San Mateo to fix the levees as quickly as possible, but that the funding will have to come from San Mateo since the damaged levees are San Mateo’s infrastructure problem, Foster City Public Works Director Ray Towne said.

One way to fund the repair project would be for the affected neighborhoods to organize themselves into their own assessment district and self-levy a tax. The cost of the tax could come out to about $60 a year for 20 years, said Susanna Chan, deputy director of Public Works for San Mateo.

For this to occur, a vote must be held in the neighborhoods surrounding the levees, and if a majority of the residents agree to the assessment district, the financing for the project would go forward, Chan said. She said this process could take six months to one year if residents chose to pursue it.

Foster City resident Dean Isaacs is hoping the repairs are made soon, so his family won’t be forced to pay hundreds of dollars for extra expenses in a place they already spend big bucks to live in.

“It just doesn’t make a lot of sense for Foster City residents to be liable for something that San Mateo has not maintained well,” he said.

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