La Cañada Boulevard has historically experienced a high degree of storm water runoff during rains. However, over the past several years, there has been a proliferation of private construction in the watershed area draining onto La Cañada Boulevard.
This construction, consisting of decks, patios, walkways, driveways and larger roof lines has increased the runoff surface area and dramatically increased water runoff flowing down the street during rains. The city is proposing to install sidewalks and gutters without underground drains. In my opinion, the water runoff issue has not been properly addressed in the sidewalk-curb installation proposal.
The east side of La Cañada Boulevard directly above Fairview already has curbs, yet it does not have water collection basins leading to underground drainage systems. What occurs in this area during rainstorms is a good example of what we may see once additional curbs or sidewalks are installed without underground drains. In this area, during normal rain storms, water runoff of 4 to 6 inches in height extends several feet into the street.
Because the street is wide, cars driving up the street are not usually impacted during normal rains. However, in heavy rain storms, almost the entire east side of the street becomes a river. On a few occasions I have mistakenly parked on the street in this location during a heavy rain and water ran over my front bumper and over the hood of my car. I have regularly observed water running over the curb which is almost 10 inches in height. I have seen trash cans, rocks, mud and debris plummet down the street during heavy rains and observed cars trudging through this mess on their way up the street.
This is a serious situation and could result in injury or property loss. By installing curbs on both sides, this condition will extend up the street, and by narrowing the street with sidewalks, vehicles will be forced to drive through the water and debris.
It is not a question of whether the curbs will make the runoff worse. The runoff is already a problem. Construction of curbs, gutters and sidewalks is an excellent opportunity to correct this problem. I implore the city to explore this issue further. I can only speculate that the city may have trepidation on spending more money on this politically-charged issue.
I would be extremely disappointed to see the city take a shortcut and fail to engineer this project properly. It will only end up costing taxpayers more money in the long run. Housing in the area is trending toward increased construction which will increase runoff over time. If the construction of the sidewalk and curb improvement is engineered to include underground street drains, it will only improve the long-term benefits of this project.