The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors at a special meeting today ratified proclamation of a local emergency due to storm-related erosion that damaged sewage pipe in the Crystal Springs County Sanitation District.

District staff found that the pipe, located in an area only accessible by foot, shifted with the land and severed on Jan. 23, 2017, after three weeks of severe storms that dropped more than 10 inches of rainfall. The County-maintained district reported the pipe damaged and leaking behind the property at 1560 Seneca Lane in the unincorporated San Mateo Highlands. The hillside continues to move although the Public Works Department has taken steps to monitor and protect the sewer facilities within the area from further damage.

The emergency declaration makes the district eligible for certain state financial and technical assistance. The initial damage estimates range up to $3 million dollars and officials will visit the damaged area later this week for a closer evaluation of repair costs. 

 

The Board of Supervisors can declare a local emergency for a specific event — in this case, the Seneca Lane mudslide — which is deemed something possibly beyond the means of the County to handle alone. The Board must make a separate declaration for each event within a 10-day window of its occurrence for damage to public land or infrastructure in the unincorporated areas. County Manager John Maltbie signed the proclamation Feb. 2 to meet the deadline and the Board was required to ratify it within seven days.

 

The County’s proclamation is separate from Gov. Jerry Brown’sJan. 23 emergency declaration which included nearly all counties statewide, including San Mateo. The state declaration is a wider umbrella under which other storm damage may be included such asthe erosion of Scenic Drive in La Honda. That erosion has left three homes red-tagged and dropped the ground 12 to 15 feet in one area. The governor’s proclamation is expected to cover the costs of stabilizing and repairing the road for which the County is responsible, according to the Office of Emergency Services. 

 

Our county’s landscape is in so many ways a natural marvel but can also prove devastating to homeowners under extreme weather conditions. Our hearts on this Board go out to all those affected by these storms,” Board President Don Horsley said.

 

At the special meeting, County Manager John Maltbie said County departments continue assessing other storm-related damage in the county that the Board may use for a separate emergency declaration at its Feb. 14 meeting.