Vista Verde Community Association

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Dear Neighbors,

Ramona Road culvert area:

On Friday, January 11, 2013, a few of us (Ken Kormanak, Ruth Thor Nelson and Amanda Lee) met with Joe LoCoco, DPW's Deputy Director, Road Services, for two hours at the culvert which overflowed onto Ramona Road on Sunday, December 2.

Ken initiated the field trip in follow up to the full Committee meeting with the DPW on December 20, 2012.  We wanted to locate and explore the restricted outflow of the culvert drain at its exit point near Los Trancos Creek.  Open the attachment for Ken's pictures that provide some good visuals.

After hiking down slope, we found that the drain pipe was indeed covered in debris and not visible; the flow of water was the only clue to its location.  This drain constriction coupled with accumulated debris at the road-level culvert caused water to back up onto Ramona Road during December’s unusually heavy rains.  Due to the drain outlet location, no equipment can access it currently.  Joe will have his crew try to expose the drain (a 24-inch RCP/reinforced concrete pipe) using hand tools to define the situation and create a solution.

The water flow below the drain seemed fine.  We found an old, huge concrete slab, likely installed as a dissipater to keep water from eroding the hillside, and beyond that roughly 100 feet of natural "dry" creek bed leading to Los Trancos Creek.  The concrete slab area is broken and scattered with fallen rock and other debris, but is doing its job.  The integrity of the creek bed is very good.

Looking at the culvert itself on Ramona Road, Joe feels that currently the integrity is good.  There is a working "French drain" as part of the '60's era design/installation which intercepts the initial flow of water and drains below grade to a depth of roughly 20 feet.  The two horizontal rebar rods across the drain entrance are well spaced to keep large debris out while preventing smaller debris from clogging the drain.  Any debris that can make it through the entrance should be flushed through the 24-inch drain pipes with the force of water. 

Joe reiterated the County's responsibility for the culvert.  He stated that any unauthorized up-slope work, modification to the culvert's wing walls, drilling of holes in the side of the culvert, or any other unauthorized water control work could compromise the integrity of the culvert.

Joe stated he would have a crew come by and clear out any new or remaining wood and debris from the easement uphill of the catch basin (Joe, Amanda, and Ken brought down a few armloads) and clean sediment from the French drain rock.

Questioning the granting of an encroachment easement and scope of work proposed by the LTCWD on the property uphill of the culvert, Joe explained that it is the policy of the DPW to have the property owner's approval before any encroachment easement will be considered.  Joe felt that the single best thing that can be done is to plant in the area of the ‘dry’ creek bed above the culvert to mitigate erosion (there is currently little vegetation).  In addition, keeping branches, logs and other debris clear of hillside areas near creek beds as a general rule is important.  Other solutions he felt would be problematic or have little effect in this area due to the steep terrain.

Joe stated he would have a crew come by and clear out any new or remaining wood and debris from the easement uphill of the catch basin (Joe, Amanda, and Ken brought down a few armloads) and clean sediment from the French drain rock.

Ramona Road:

The DPW is planning to move forward with the rock wall fix of the slide this spring (May or when the soil is dried sufficiently from the rains).  A soldier beam fix is still under discussion but not likely.  The DPW feels strongly that the rock fix offers a good solution that will last.  The way DPW budgeting works, this fix is also the most economical since it will be done within the existing roads budget with only materials needing to be billed out, and it is the most expedient since the formal bid process (expensive and time consuming) does not apply.

Joe showed us where the key for the rock wall would be cut in at the base of the hill and explained that work can be done from Ramona Road with excavation equipment capable of the 30-foot reach.  The sloped rock wall will be built so that there will be a shoulder at road level.  Soil covered by netting and planted with ground cover and trees (like Willows) will be installed over the rock.

We noticed that a few chevron road markers denoting a curve were missing; Joe said he would look into replacement.  Considering the drop off and number of vehicles that have gone over the edge near this section, we asked that installation of a guard rail system be evaluated as part of the road repair.  We reiterated our concern that heavy vehicles (moving vans, cement and garbage trucks) may destabilize the road bed and be in danger.  The idea of placing cones on the road along the slide area to keep vehicles from the edge was nixed since an unnecessary constriction and possible hazard would result.  Joe stated he would make sure his crew monitors the condition of the road edge for any indications of deterioration.

In Summary:
We were able to meet and discuss the Ramona Road situation for more than two hours with Joe LoCoco.  We feel that the DPW shares and understands the concerns of our community.  We have formed a partnership with open lines of communication and cooperation to get our roads restored as quickly as possible.

The DPW has followed through - in only a few days - on the Ramona Road culvert work that was discussed last Friday and has further improved the outer catch basin by excavating the French drain, removing accumulated silt, and building up a surrounding wall.

The DPW has met with the Woodside Fire Department to review best practices in dealing with clogged culverts.

The DPW has informed the LTCWD (per LTCWD Jan minutes) of conditions that need to be met between property owners and the LTCWD for proposed encroachment easement consideration.  They are as follows:

  • Work cooperatively and in good faith with all parties
  • Review and evaluate engineered plans for suitability on our property
  • Accept responsibility for maintenance of drainage features unless otherwise negotiated
  • Honor any financial obligation I/we agree to in order to effect improvements
  • Exhaust all options to resolve differences prior to considering litigation regarding water movement related issues with parties to this agreement

The County is aware that Ross Edwards with Mario Wijtman of the SARR Committee continue to explore the suitability and feasibility of the two solutions under review:  a) soldier beam construction as was done to repair the earlier 1983 road failure and b) rock wall solution.


Solutions for Alpine Road problems remain unchanged: soil nailing in one area, a rock wall in another.

What can we do individually?   Keep branches, logs and other debris clear of creek beds, culverts and surrounding hillsides.

The SARR Committee will continue to follow up with the DPW on the restoration of our roads and share information with the community so that residents, visitors and service providers have safe and reliable access to travel the roads of our community.

DPW's 24-hour emergency line is (650) 363-4100

Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 pm  call (650) 363-4103.

If you have any questions/concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Ken, Ruth & Amanda
Save Alpine and Ramona Roads (SARR) Committee
of the Vista Verde and Los Trancos Woods Community Associations
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