In City of Pasadena v. Superior Court (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 1228, the court held that the City of Pasadena might have liability for damage to a house caused by a City-owned street tree that fell during a storm. On November 11, 2011, hurricane-force winds blew down or damaged 5,000 trees in the City, which damaged many homes. The insurance company of one of the damaged homeowners sued the City under negligence and inverse condemnation theories.
CASE UPDATE: Court Rules That A Water Retention Basin At Northstar Ski Resort That Is Causing Water Damage To Nearby Buildings Is A Nuisance, Granting An Injunction..
In Aspen Grove Condominium Assoc. v. CNL Income Northstar LLC, (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 53, the court of appeal affirmed a trial court order requiring the owners of the Northstar Ski Resort to remove a 20,000 cubic foot water retention basin. Northstar constructed the basin as part of a major expansion of buildings, driveways and parking lots. Despite the fact that Northstar had numerous other areas of its property on which to build the basin, Northstar the basis along a lower boundary if its property, close to neighboring buildings, and apparently without sufficient geotechnical or soils analyses.
CASE UPDATE: Private Property Owner Liable To County, Under Reasonableness Test, For Failing To Maintain Storm Drainage Channel Through Its Property In City of Richmond.
In Contra Costa County v. Pinole Point Properties, LLC (2015) 2015 WL 1544978, the court affirmed the trial court’s decision that a downstream property owner was liable for damages caused by its failure to maintain a drainage channel that crossed its property. The subject property was owned by Pinole Point Properties and located along San Pablo Bay in the City of Richmond. The subject property was undeveloped except for two main railroad berms and a few large drainage pipes under the berms, and the property contained an 8-foot wide by 6-foot deep drainage channel that flowed to the Bay. Pinole Point Properties caused the drainage channel to become obstructed and nonfunctional by failing to maintain it and keep it clear of silt, vegetation and debris since it purposed the property 30 years ago. (The prior owner of the property did do such maintenance.) As a result, a large upstream storm drain pipe installed by Contra Costa County did not function as designed and the County was required to spend large sums of money in emergency flood protection efforts to protect a nearby residential neighborhood during large storm events.
Stormwater issues are not new to residents of hillside and mountain areas. Because winter storms often bring voluminous amounts of rain, sometimes for weeks on end, it is important to know how and where all that stormwater is flowing through your property in order to protect structures from damage and to protect the land from erosion. Sometimes stormwater needs to be collected, concentrated and discharged elsewhere through pipes or culverts, especially following new construction or the creation of impermeable surfaces (like roads and driveways).