Council delays vote on revised Annex flood basin plan


Taking the advice of city attorney Jannie Quinn, the City Council delayed a vote on the Cuesta Annex flood basin that was set for Tuesday.

Quinn recommended that the council wait for the completion of the project's environmental impact report over the summer.

"The City Council shouldn't really be approving the project until the environmental review is completed," Quinn said in a last minute announcement.

The City Council has been asked to approve plans for a Cuesta Annex flood basin that's half the size of the one originally proposed.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is proposing a basin in the open lot next to Cuesta Park known as the Cuesta Annex to capture 30 to 35 acre-feet of flood waters from nearby Permanente Creek, while 65-acre feet was originally proposed. The basin takes up 4.5 acres at the front of the 12.5-acre Annex and is 8 to 12 feet feet deep, according to proposed plans released June 14. Previously the Water District had proposed a 20- to 25-foot deep basin.

The basin is part of a project sufficient to capture flood waters in the event of a 100-year flood, which has a one percent chance of happening every year.

According to the plans, the sides of the basin would be sloped at a 14 degree angle, with stairs sand trails providing access. At least 30 new native trees would be planted, while 18 would be removed, including one classified by the city as a large heritage tree. Native wildflowers, grasses and shrubs are proposed which will not be irrigated.

Neighbors and users of the Annex say they like the informal nature of the existing park, and some have opposed any changes, citing the potential loss of wildlife in the park, such as the great blue heron that resides there and hunts ground squirrels. Others have said the basin protects at least part of the Annex from future development. A controversial plan for a city history museum in the back of the Annex was recently killed by the Mountain View Historical Association, citing fundraising difficulties.

After an environmental review this summer, the Water District could approve the entire Permanente and Hale creek flood protection project by December. It includes flood basins at Mountain View's McKelvey Park and Rancho San Antonio park near Los Altos. Construction could begin in 2014.

Public works engineer Sean Rose reports that 3,000 properties would be protected from flooding by the project, and 490 would be removed from FEMA flood zones.

If approved, pipelines would be installed under Cuesta Drive and Miramonte Avenue to bring water to and from the Annex basin the event of flooding.

A basin at Blach school was removed from the project after Los Altos school officials voted against it, and Water District engineers found that flooding would not be as bad as previously thought. Engineers found that large portion of hillside near Lehigh cement quarry actually did not flow into the creek, which also allowed the size of the Annex basin to shrink.

The Water District has also proposed flood walls along Permanente Creek north of Highway 101 and south of Amphitheater Parkway, protecting Google headquarters from flooding, the risks of which may increase as the sea level rises. And cement channels would be removed from some sections of the creek, allowing it to be widened and deepened. The district would also replace two bridges where Mountain View Avenue crosses Permanente Creek.

Information about the proposal is available on the city's website.


Like this comment
Posted by Dick Guertin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I received a notice of a City Council Meeting next Tuesday @ 6:30pm about the Water District's Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project. I did a search for this project and found the District's descriptive page and associated fact sheet which states the following:

Permanente Creek has a history of flooding, having experienced major flooding in 1862, 1911, 1940, 1950, 1952, 1955, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1995 and 1998.

I then researched the District's Flood Reports. There is none for 1968, but the 1967's report says "Recent improvements on Permanente Creek functioned well." The 1995 report said "Permanente Creek overflowed at Park Drive and damaged two units of an apartment building." The 1998 report said "Permanente overflowed between Park Drive and Amphitheater Parkway." There was no mention of damage in 1998.

Of these three, all were down-stream from the Cuesta Park Neighborhood. I've lived in this neighborhood since January 1968, and I've never seen Permanente Creek overflow in our neighborhood.

I believe this is a boondoggle project, and the money would be better spent providing flood insurance to the Park Drive properties, or widen the channel of Permanente Creek in the Park Drive area, or provide a McKelvey Park basin.

Like this comment
Posted by BeenThere, DidThat
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 17, 2012 at 6:02 am

Not to argue the specifics, but the generally accepted way of doing flood control is to do it UPSTREAM of areas prone to flooding, so it would make logical sense that IF flood control was needed, it would take place upstream from where the flooding occurred.

Like this comment
Posted by Museum
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

"A controversial plan for a city history museum in the back of the Annex was recently voted down by the City Council."

I don't think that's true. The council did reject putting a house in the annex, but they approved the museum several years ago. The reason the museum died recently was the historical association couldn't raise the funds before the deadline.

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Posted by Cuesta Neighbor
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I think the flood that the water district is trying to protect against is not represented in the recent history -- only one of those dates listed was likely to be a 100+ year flood -- 1862. That flood was a huge one all over California -- it resulted in a temporary lake in the Central Valley that was 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. It's this type of rare event that the 100 year flood standard is meant to protect against. However, even the 100 year protection may not be enough for this type of flooding -- the whole Silicon Valley is one big flood plane -- that's why it was such good agricultural land and that's why it is all in the FEMA 500 year flood zone.

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Posted by Cuesta Neighbor
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Also, just for accuracy, the water district never proposed at 30-35 ft deep basin -- the deepest proposed was 20-23 ft.

And the Council did not vote down the history museum, the Historical Association withdrew from the process before the first fundraising report was due. I think the report would have shown that they had not raised nearly enough to meet the goal or to even make a case for more time.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Tax Payer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

30-35 acre feet of water capture is drop in the bucket during a 100 year flood and renders the land useless. What a stupid idea!!

Like this comment
Posted by cuesta neighbor
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Annex has been vacant unused land for the two decades I've lived need it. If it is public land - use it for public good. A 1% flood basin is useful. [dateline Los Angeles] The Sepulveda flood basin was built in 1940 and did a lot to prevent property damage in the 1994 floods. This is a similar small scale project to protect Mountain View. The Sepulveda basin is both undeveloped and developed parklands.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Old Mountain View

on Jun 2, 2017 at 8:09 pm

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