Rancho San Antonio County Park in Cupertino will be ravaged by heavy construction equipment this summer. The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to flatten about 70 trees and dig a huge, useless flood basin, creating lots of noise and dust in our most heavily visited Open Space Preserve. Plans are scheduled to go out to bid Tuesday, May 10.
The project is a fraud.
The Water District is desperate to spend money it has collected from you, the taxpayer, over 15 years. A naïve public voted for a parcel tax in 2000, and then renewed it in 2014.
Look at your tax bill: “SCVWD Safe, Clean Water — $59.32.”
We are closing in on $1,000 paid by each home in the county, and here is what the district has been doing with that money.
The district produced a 2008 report entitled “Permanente Creek Flood Protection” to explain how the money was to be spent. The report is 147 pages long. The district figured no one would ever find it, read it and examine it critically. Someone did and told me about it.
The plan was to dig four flood basins. The first was to be the entire athletic field at Blach Intermediate School in Los Altos. The second was to excavate the Open Space field at Cuesta Park in Mountain View. Residents opposed both of those projects and offered sound reasons as to why they were unnecessary and otherwise undesirable. The projects were abandoned, and the district then decided it didn’t need them anyway. But huge amounts of money were spent developing and promoting those plans.
The fourth project is the biggie: our County Park. Page 36 of the report states, “There is a choke-point built into the channel … purposely to avoid induced flooding downstream in Stevens Creek.”
The whole idiotic scheme revolves around this statement.
A choke-point forces water out of a channel and sends it over school property toward El Camino Hospital, creating a flood threat to hundreds of parcels downstream. People in Mountain View and Los Altos pay hundreds of dollars each year in flood insurance because of this manufactured flood zone. Redirecting floodwater onto properties that do not naturally receive it is not only defies common sense but is also a blatant violation of riparian law.
Mountain View suffered severe flooding in the 1950s. To alleviate this, Upper Permanente Creek was diverted in 1959 through a concrete channel, which discharges into Stevens Creek. This system has functioned without fail, except for one incident due to a design defect that was subsequently corrected. The infamous choke-point is in that channel. The district claims there is a substantial channel deficiency on Stevens Creek, which would be aggravated by removing the choke-point. But the fix required on Stevens Creek would then be only 15 percent larger. The district prefers to stop that 15 percent flow by digging a flood basin at Rancho San Antonio.
This is an exercise in lunacy.
Our other governmental agencies are either complicit or compliant with this outrage. County Parks did not object, even though their mission is to protect parkland. The county Board of Supervisors granted permission to invade the park. FEMA happily collects flood insurance money. Neither Mountain View nor Los Altos public works departments have protested the flood threat to their residents, or their flood insurance payments, which are created by the choke-point. Governmental agencies do not challenge misconduct by other governmental agencies.
They all get along.
So, our government is not working at the local level either. It’s time for the electorate to care.
Jerry Clements is a registered civil engineer (No. 14030). The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.