Sink this three-pointer: Water basin collapses Huntington Park basketball court

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Huntington Park basketball players and school officials began to get a peculiar sinking feeling months ago when their outdoor basketball court started to buckle and then slowly sag into the earth.

“Back in January, we saw cracks starting to form,” said Mark Hovatter, chief facility executive for the Los Angeles Unified School District. “Initially it was an inch a week.”

Now the basketball court looks like a massive, 8-foot-deep crater, and Los Angeles Unified School District officials suspect that the deformation may have been caused by a drought mitigation structure.


Directly below the court at Linda Esperanza Marquez High School lies a man-made stormwater collection basin -- one of 40 such basins located throughout the school district.

The retention basin was designed to collect storm water, Hovatter said, so it could soak into the aquifer instead of flowing into the streets. Hovatter likened it to an underground pond or lake that has been covered with pavement.

“It’s very important for us that we have a system that collects excess storm water,” he said Wednesday. “We’re in a drought situation ... so we’re trying to collect all that rainwater.”

The exact cause of the collapse -- which Hovatter described as “a slow process” -- remains under investigation. What is clear, however, is that a fix isn’t coming anytime soon.

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The depression currently measures roughly 45 feet by 75 feet, and officials said it would take two to three months to repair the court.


The school surrounded the court with a fence once officials realized the pavement was sinking, Hovatter said.

There is no risk of the damage spreading to other areas, he said.

Although some might be tempted to say the basketball court fell victim to a sinkhole, Hovatter said this is not the case.

Sinkholes are often caused by enormous underground caves that can swallow entire residential blocks. There is no such cave beneath the Huntington Park playground.

“This is not something that’s out of control,” Hovatter said. “‘Sinkhole’ creates a lot of anxiety. If you’re a neighbor thinking, ‘Is this sinkhole going to make its way over to my backyard?’ the answer is absolutely not.”

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