Monday, April 11, 2011


Gary Murphy has passed the torch after 16 years of advocating, speaking out, working with staff and council, and conceiving and implementing plans. Now that he's figured out how downtown Leucadia's sources of blight all lead back to one point, it will take a different personality to get the torch across the finish line. He says Leucadia's flooding and political intrigue are all tied to one geographic spot. That spot is the gate valve underneath a manhole cover across from RCP Block and Brick.

Gary says that on December 21, 2010 the gate valve was closed during that day's storm. There was no flooding of Leucadia 101. Once the gate was opened, the Leucadia 101 corridor flooded. So it looks like the 101 corridor's flooding is determined by a human decision to open or close the gate. According to Gary the original design for the nuisance drain didn't include this gate valve, because it wasn't conceived to drain the area upstream of the gate valve. There was also a human decision to draw all that extra water north, rather than south toward Cottonwood Creek.

So, if Gary is right that the person in charge of the gate valve is in charge of Leucadia' flooding it has huge ramifications. Remember that the redevelopment district was all predicated on Leucadia having a serious flooding problem. Blight. Who has been in charge of the gate valve? It all lands on Phil Cotton.

According to Gary, the city is also pumping water over the bluff at Beacons during storms using a water discharge permit that requires a situation to be declared an emergency by the Fire Chief. It is only legal to pump if there is an emergency. How does that jive if the city is making the 101 flooding happen?

Are we to believe that Gary is off-base and he is full of crazy talk? That is how a lot of citizens have been painted and like with other citizens, it was only later discovered that they were saying the exact same thing the city's own high-paid consultants were telling the city. Did we pay millions for crazy talk reports?

Here is an excerpt from a document which was not widely distributed, which coincides with Gary's conclusions. Gary had a "bingo" moment when he read the city's hydrologist's statement that said:
Although the orifice plates enhance the performance of the existing storm drain system, runoff still ponds in the sump areas during storms, resulting in potential inundation of streets and other properties. The City addressed the extent of flooding on Vulcan Avenue near Union Street with the installation of a sluice gate/orifice plate in the storm drain system. The orifice plate serves to restrict flows from crossing under the NCTD right-of-way during the storm event, and the sluice gate can be opened to expedite drainage of the stored water after the storm when the downstream facility is no longer overtaxed.
The city's hydrologists/engineers expect the gate valve to be left closed until after the storm passes.

Photo of the downstream facility being overtaxed. Gary says the city's very directed practice has been to leave the gate open during storms.

Gary leaves us with a number of questions:
Why hasn't the city been following the advice of its own high-paid experts, and thus flooding the 101 corridor?
Who knew about this practice and how far up did the approval go?

What does/did the city have to gain by flooding Leucadia 101?

See Also: Phil Cotton has authority to fix Leucadia's flooding.

I'm sending the city manager an email so he can give his side to all this. Given that we can't find a response to the Coast News editorial and city management's recent history of obfuscation, delay, and ducking questions we might have to wait a while. We'll keep track of how long it takes.


  1. note: when the gate is closed, it appears, that water still flows through, just not nearly as fast.

  2. So, during all the drought years when Leucadia flooded it was the City opening the gates? This stinks.

  3. Hmm... maybe they're trying to evaporate the water instead of letting it soak in?

    I was talking to the guys making the Dos Palmas bakery on 101 and Jason. They said they are having to build a 17' deep pit under their building to catch runoff water from their property and the surrounding area. The pit wall are sealed so the water cannot go into the ground. Over time, the water is pumped slowly out on to the street in front of the building to evaporate. They can't let the water soak into the ground because the water eventually exits the bluffs, and causes more erosion.

  4. Harty,

    Why don't you call straight ace Cotton and ask him if he caused the flooding that Dos Palmas is mitigating?

    That is a huge cost for Dos Palmas. All because of Leucadia's flooding.

  5. I'm not calling Cotton. This is not my battle. Even though I know it will effect me. Coffee at Dos Palmas will probably have to cost $2.05 instead of $1.95... just cuz of that pit.

    But who will want to drink expensive coffee with the stench of standing water in the air? or with standing water being slowly dripped out into the street in front of the cafe?

    It's a catch 22. Meanwhile, Pannekin can raise their prices again, since they have a monopoly on 101 coffee. Surely people will pay $2.15 to drink coffee and not smell old water.

  6. The water pumped from beneath the building will not stand at Dos Palmas. It will flow downhill toward Phoebe St and exit into the large inlet.

  7. That makes more sense. They didn't mention the "flow," they only said evaporate.

    Maybe that flowing water from beneath Dos Palmas can convince the water in the perma-puddle in front of the anique store (next to Dos Palmas) to flow on down the drain, too? Afterall, water is cohesive.

  8. There is a permanent puddle in front of the Clock Shop that the city has threatened to fix several times - along with the sidewalk issues there too. But I'm not holding my breath.


    The Nantucket project got taken over by Shea....coming soon!


    Nantucket will now be built out by Shea....coming soon!!!

  11. To further complicate the issue, all new construction must now abide by the new stormwater regulations as of January, this year.

    These regulations require stormwater to be treated and contained on the property, possibly pumped into wells below the property. The Engineering Dept. doesn't even know how to handle that. Surely we won't be required to introduce stormwater below grade, that's insane.


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