Jun 30, 2006
City and Developer sued over sewage discharges: Residents near Leona Quarry say construction is leading to higher flow through Chimes Creek.
Jun 28, 2006
Oakland Tribune, Metro Section
Neighbors sue city, developer over rain runoff: East Oakland residents near Leona Quarry say Chimes Creek is running too high after storms.
Jun 27, 2006
Channel 7 ABC News at 6 pm
Oakland Residents Sue New Housing: Some East Oakland residents have filed suit aginst the city and a major housing developer charging the project is adveresely affecting their homes.
Jan 20, 2006
to the Editor
Maureen Dorsey of Dorsey, et al vs. City of Oakland wrote and sent this letter to the local news outlets. None of the editors could find space to print this letter.
Oct 30, 2005
Extreme Makeover: Leona quarry to get a new life as Oakland's biggest Subdivision
Nov 9, 2004
Group Criticizes Leona Quarry Runoff
Nov 8, 2004
Developer Cited for Pollution Violations
Nov 4, 2004
The facts about Chimes Creek
Oct 4, 2004
Neighbors Fear Flooding from Development
Aug 6, 2004
Leona Quarry run-off stirs concerns
June 30, 2006
Go to website: www. contracostatimes.com
City and developer sued over sewage discharges
Residents near Leona Quarry say construction is leading to higher flow through Chimes Creek
June 28, 2006
Oakland Tribune, Metro Section
Go to website: www.insidebayarea.com
Neighbors sue city, developer over rain runoff
East Oakland residents near Leona Quarry say Chimes Creek is
running too high after storms
By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area
June 27, 2006
Channel 7 News at 6 pm
Go to website: abclocal.go.com
Oakland Residents Sue New Housing
Some East Oakland residents have filed suit against the city and a
major housing developer charging the project is adversely affecting
their homes. The city says it's really the homeowners' problem. So
the matter is going to court.
Tue, Nov. 09, 2004
Group criticizes Leona Quarry runoff
By Tricia Caspers
Millsmont residents living near Chimes Creek are celebrating what they say is a small victory in their battle with DeSilva Gates Construction and Oakland officials to keep the creek pollution and silt free.
Last week, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board notified DeSilva Gates, the company building 423 units at the former Leona Quarry site (on I-580 between Edwards and Seminary avenues), that it's in violation of the statewide general permit for the discharge of storm water associated with construction. The notice states that DeSilva Gates needs to take immediate action to minimize further violations.
The water quality board wrote in the letter, "It is apparent that the site's current control measures are ineffective and most likely have caused significant sediment discharges during the last two storm events."
Nearby residents like Mark Brest van Kempen and Chiye Azuma have notified Oakland's Public Works Agency when the developer's anti-pollution and erosion control measures have, in their view, been ineffective since grading began at the site in April. These communications took place throughout April and May and 16 times in October.
The residents say that run-off from the site fills Chimes Creek with dirt, causes erosion along the creek bed and exposes sewer lines.
"It's good that somebody finally said that the developers can't keep doing what they're doing," Brest van Kempen said. "I'm disappointed that the city didn't step in sooner."
After an Oct. 26 inspection, the Water Quality Board wrote that "(Steep) slopes and graded areas ... were inadequately stabilized with hydroseed/recycled paper hydromulch, or lacked erosion control entirely ... (which) resulted in the erosion of site soils ... and subsequent discharge of high-turbidity runoff to the detention basin at the bottom of the site, and from the basin to the storm drain and thence to Chimes Creek."
The board said that it requested DeSilva Gates to provide water samples from the Leona Quarry site on Aug. 24 to show how the filtration system was working. They have yet to receive those samples.
The board may fine DeSilva Gates up to $10,000 per day of each violation, plus $10 per gallon of sediment-laden water discharged in excess of 1,000 gallons.
"I think we view the site as one of the more challenging in the city because of the deep slopes," said Keith Lichten, inspector with the Water Quality Board. "We're still looking to DeSilva Gates to do the right thing."
Meanwhile, DeSilva Gates has asked the City Council to allow it to postpone certain required improvements, such as storm drains and sewers while it continues grading. The council will discuss the request on Nov. 16.
City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel (District 3-West Oakland), who chairs the city's Public Works Committee, said she wants to see how DeSilva is addressing drainage issues at the site before she decides whether to allow the postponement.
Calls to DeSilva Gates were not returned by deadline Monday.
Brest van Kempen is hopeful the developer will follow through on the water quality board's long list of required actions.Still, "I'm concerned that it doesn't address a lot of the long-term problems," such as contaminants like oil and car soap running into the creek once there are people parking cars at the development, he said.
"That last rain storm showed that the detention pond won't filter water," he said.
Reach Tricia Caspers at 510-748-1682 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mon, Nov. 8, 2004
Developer cited for pollution violations
By Peggy Stinnett
Monday, November 08, 2004 - DESPITE assurances by the city's public works staff that the city is "working closely with all regulatory agencies" in dealing with complaints of residents along Chimes Creek about the Leona Quarry housing project, guess what happened?
The very same regulatory agency the city claims to be so cozy with has cited the project of the politically connected developer Oliver DeSilva with six violations of California's water quality regulations. The agency is an arm of the state Environmental Protection Agency.
And another "guess what?" The violations covered all the complaints Delmont Avenue neighbors have been making to the city.
Delmont Avenue neighbors live downhill from Leona Quarry where 470 homes are being built by DeSilva-Gates. They are seeing Chimes Creek, which lines their back yards, eroded and filled with silt from the outflow from the construction site.
The developer's so-called prevention plan is not working, the state's regional Water Quality Control Board has told the developer.
In stern advice, dated Nov. 2 to Dublin-based DeSilva-Gates contractors, the board says the firm must take immediate steps to correct the violations or face heavy fines.
You may also wonder why city Public Works Director Raul Godinez II and city planning Director Claudia Cappio wrote an opinion piece in the Nov. 4 Tribune defending the city's role in overseeing the Leona Quarry development.
The city officials praised themselves and the developer for "working closely with all regulatory agencies and the contractor to ensure that all community concerns are properly addressed and dealt with."
Apparently the reality check came in the mail the next day.
Not only that, the City Council has been asked by city staff to approve a recommendation that would allow DeSilva-Gates to postpone completion of site improvements while they proceed with construction of building pads.
If approved, the developer might be able to get around the prohibition against site
work during the rainy season when the slopes are more apt to erode and slide. The issue will be scheduled for the Nov. 16 council meeting.
Chiye Azuma, of Delmont Avenue, said "It is not our intent to stop the development but to ensure this project is built in accordance with the promises that were made to the city and the taxpaying public. We have been asking that no harm come to our fragile creek environment. "
"It has been disheartening to see our elected officials bend over backwards to accommodate the developer while brushing aside the concerns of the residents. The concurrence of the state water quality control board is only the first step in getting the developer, city engineers and planners to recognize that they too, must abide by the city's creek ordinance and the nation's Water Quality Act."
The water board's notice details specific requirements that must be met by DeSilva-Gates before Nov. 15. Failure to respond or a late response may result in increased civil liability and fines of $5,000 a day, said the notice.
Eight specific actions must be completed at Leona Quarry in the next week to prevent erosion and sediment "by the beginning of the rainy season," which started earlier than usual this fall.
Hay mulching has already begun and the developer is ordered to apply an acre of straw to all disturbed areas, and fiber blankets on steeper slopes.
DeSilva-Gates is required to comply with a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan that includes making weekly monitoring reports to the state throughout the rainy season ending in April.
Small areas had a better report but the discharge still went to Chimes Creek where Delnont residents complain of an unusual build up of silt.
The regional WQCB of the state EPA said the large areas of hydroseed and hay mulch mixture applied before the Oct. 19 storm eroded off the slopes and most likely went downstream into the detention basin at the bottom of the site. The purpose of the basin is to catch and hold the water long enough in a confined space to allow most of it to seep into the earth slowly. This cuts down erosion significantly, or is supposed to.
But the agency said the seeding, mulching and catch basin efforts were "not appropriate" and hadn't done the job. The damage done by the two storms was evidence of that, said the citation.
In its reprimand, the agency noted that the law requires that inspection reports be maintained on the site but none were available.
Final guess what? We're just starting the rainy season.
Thursday, Nov. 4, 2004
The facts about Chimes Creek
M Y W O R D
BY Raul Godinez II and Claudia Cappio
Thursday, November 04, 2004 - PEGGY Stinnett's Oct. 4 column, "Residents fear quarry development may flood creek," leads Tribune readers to believe the city of Oakland has been less than honest about the Leona Quarry development project and its effect on Chimes Creek and the Delmont Avenue residents. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The column alludes to a buried creek at the quarry being activated by a "freak rainstorm" a few weeks ago. The environmental impact report revealed there is no creek buried at the quarry. The city's extensive review of the drainage at the site identified a number of issues, and these were addressed in plans requiring a new drainage system to detain and control the flow of the water across Interstate 580 and into Chimes Creek.
The sediments collected on Mountain Boulevard were a result of surface runoff. Since the rainstorm, the city has required the contractor to accelerate the installation of erosion control measures to mitigate or prevent runoff from the site into the public right-of-way. These measures included hydro seeding the site by Oct. 15 in preparation for the rainy season.
The city and contractor have no plans to widen Chimes Creek. The existing erosion of the creek and damage to the oak and acacia trees are not attributed to the project, but are the result of years of erosion along this section of the creek.
The city made sure the proposed development was designed so that the existing condition of the creek will not worsen. In fact, the new drainage system is designed to capture more surface runoff and detain it on-site during heavy rains, thus providing an extra measure of safety.
Additionally, the city has required the following measures to address erosion, sediment control, flow velocity, sanitary sewer upgrades and compliance with the Creek Ordinance.
The contractor increased the monitoring frequency of runoff, leaving the site to ensure that pollutants do not enter the storm drainage system.
The contractor left the existing 39-inch pipe that leads to Chimes Creek intact and is constructing a huge detention basin on-site so that the flow velocity into the creek does not change.
The contractor agreed to pay approximately $400,000 toward upgrading the capacity of the sewer system downstream of the development.
The city continues to work closely with all regulatory agencies and the contractor to ensure that all community concerns are properly addressed and dealt with. For more information, call Marcel Uzegbu at 238-6257.
Raul Godinez II is director of Oakland's Public Works Agency. Claudia Cappio is development director of the Community & Economic Development Agency.
Monday, October 04, 2004
Neighbors fear flooding from development
By Peggy Stinnett
Monday, October 04, 2004 - DELMONT AVENUE neighbors downhill from the housing development where 470 homes are being built in the Leona Quarry carved from the Oakland hills are worried about what will happen to their very special Chimes Creek with winter on the way.
Chimes Creek daylights on a section of Delmont before going underground to cross Seminary Avenue and then briefly surfaces on the Mills College campus. Ultimately it joins Horseshoe and Lions creeks and spills into the Bay. It starts in the area of Ridgemont homes near Merritt College.
A preview of what may be in store was seen two weeks ago when a freak rainstorm activated the buried creek at the quarry and water shot out of the hillside and down the hill.
When I spoke with some Delmont residents, they said they don't oppose the housing development. They only want their lovely dark and deep creek to be preserved according to the city's Creek Preservation ordinance.
Chiye Azuma, Steve Leikin and Douglas Polentz live on Delmont where Chimes Creek flows alongside their back yards. They are part of Chimes Creek Neighbors, who speak with one voice when they say, "We care about the creek." On the other side of the creek is Hillmont Avenue, whose properties also are affected.
Chimes Creek is one of the most attractive features of their properties, but over time the property has eroded by some 30 feet from torrents of winter rains. Old and beautiful acacia and oak trees are seriously threatened.
"A large acacia that stood here lost its footing in June and came crashing down, missing our house by about five feet," Azuma said as we stood on the creek bank. It's a steep drop to the creek. Another large acacia is teetering over the creek with half its root ball exposed by water that was muddied by quarry dirt this summer.
Azuma says the sewer pipe is leaking raw sewage and "patch ups" by city crews have not been effective. When the housing is finished there will be unbearable stresses on the sewer system.
"With 470 units of housing using a system that even now is inadequate, what will happen?" she asks. "The city tells us the experts have a plan."
But Azuma herself is an expert, a landscape architect familiar with such problems in her position with the Fremont planning department where she reviews development plans and is familiar with hydrology and creeks.
"It's ironic that whatever environmental scars the Leona Quarry operations may have left on the hills, the operators understood the basic hydrology enough to keep a number of holding ponds on the site, as well as maintaining a system of barriers that directed the runoff at the base of the site away from the public roadways," she says. "It wasn't a perfect system but it was effective because it respected the natural force of the watershed and the existence of Chimes Creek coursing through the quarry."
One solution proposed by the city is to widen the creek. But some neighbors on the Hillmont side say that would take part of their properties.
Delmont neighbor Polentz says his main concern is keeping the creek intact. He believes in the "bee hive" or "hornet's nest" theory that when you stir it up, furious bees come out of the hive. He also says he favors development of the housing.
Azuma suspects the holding ponds were functional enhancements built into natural features on the site. "What seems curious to me is the city engineers, so far, are focusing on winterization, hydroseeding and soil binding as if these measures will protect us from erosion and mudslides," she says.
She thinks one big rain could wipe out the seeds very quickly.
The developer has covered the old ponds and buried them under gravel. But she comments, "It doesn't matter if you hide the creek under a pile of gravel, it will sooner or later burst out and hopefully you haven't put all your money in that townhouse right below that impromptu waterfall."
Now the developer is building one very large holding pond at the bottom of the hill. It could help, but Azuma is still skeptical.
"The pond water outfall is an existing 39-inch pipe that goes under Interstate 580. The plan is to have overflow run down Edwards Avenue. This is all in the public record. Even if it flows down Edwards, it ends up in the storm drains that eventually drain into Chimes Creek."
I called city engineer Marcel Usegbu, who is working on the project, to hear his expertise on Chimes Creek. After introductory remarks, he told me "city protocol" required him to check with someone else before talking with me. Uzegbu did not return the call by deadline.
E-mail Peggy Stinnett at email@example.com
Fri, Aug. 06, 2004
Leona Quarry Run-Off Stirs Concerns
By Tricia Caspers
Millsmont residents thought they'd settled much of the controversy over the Leona Quarry development when they reached a deal with the DeSilva Group, the Dublin-based developer constructing 423 units at the intersection of Route 13 and I-880. But now, they say trouble is brewing again -- over Chimes Creek.
The Burckhalter Neighbors' Association, Maureen Dorsey and Citizens for Oakland's Open Space settled a lawsuit with the DeSilva Group in December 2003. The suit focused on the expected jump in traffic on Edwards Avenue and possible flooding during the rainy season.
"It was taken for granted that the quality of the water would be taken care of," said Millsmont resident Chiye Azuma.
Chimes Creek -- which runs through the construction site, down through the residents' back yards, Mills College and into the Bay -- has been polluted with silt since grading began in early April, according to Azuma and her neighbor, Mark Brest van Kempen. "They're bulldozing the creek over to make the water run underground," Brest van Kempen said. "They're not supposed to put silt in the creek, but there's been silt in there every day. It looks like chocolate, and it's normally completely clear."
DeSilva Group representatives did not return phone calls about the creek by press time.
According to Public Works Department records, city officials have responded to complaints of dirty water in Chimes Creek 10 times from May 27 to July 12. Brest van Kempen says he's made almost 40 complaints.
Public Works records state that sub-drain pipes on the DeSilva construction site were discharging dirty water into a storm drain on several occasions. At times, officials recommended that the developer use a proper filtering system to clean the water before it flows into the storm drain. "Each one of these violations should result in a $5,000 fine," Brest van Kempen said.
But Marcel Uzegbu, a project manager with the Public Works Department said he "wouldn't call these violations. "I would call them 'days that the water was dirty,'" Uzegbu said.
Oakland has not fined the developer "due to the city's determination that (the developer is) cooperating," according to a report written by Jun Osalbo, a Public Works engineer.
The developer is very responsive, Uzegbu said. "We have required that the developer have 'baker tanks' at the site. The water coming through the site goes through the tank and is filtered before it goes through (to the storm drain)," he said. The city of Oakland requires the developer to check the water every half hour, Uzegbu said.
Brest van Kempen, though, is also concerned about the future increase in runoff after roads are they are built, he said. "The roads don't let the water absorb into the ground. There will be huge runoff into the creek and huge erosion. Sewer lines are already exposed ... they're hanging in mid-air," Brest van Kempen said.
Uzegbu says he is not aware of exposed sewer lines. "They are not attributable to this project," he said. To combat runoff, the developer is putting in an immense detention pond, Uzegbu said. "It is envisioned that the amount of water leaving the site will not exceed the current conditions," he said.
But Brest van Kempen says the detention pond is not enough. Pollution -- motor oil, fertilizers and car washing liquid -- could rise to the top of the pond and be the first to drain into the creek when the pond overflows, he said. The resident has suggested that the developer add "vegetative swales." These rolling dips in the lawn would allow for more rain water to be absorbed, and the pollutants will be pulled or stopped by the plants.
"These measures will save the city in the long run," Brest van Kempen said. "All the community is trying to do is to get city officials to deal with the development in an environmental way." But city officials have not been receptive, Azuma said.
City Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who represents this part of the hills (District 6), disagrees. "I am equally concerned about the creek. We are holding the developers accountable for some of the (problems), but others are clearly out of the developer's control," Brooks said.
Keith Lichten, an environmental scientist with the Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Team of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, has met with city staff and the developer. "We've worked with them to come up with a better system for filtering the water during the dry season," Lichten said. The board will continue to check the construction area throughout the rainy season. "It's a challenging site," Lichten said.
ON SITE SAMPLING
Some of the 10 reports of illicit discharge at the Leona Quarry development include:
May 27 - Sub-drain pipes connected to the inlet on Mountain Boulevard were found to be discharging dirty water into the storm system. Warning notice given to DeSilva Gates Construction.
June 18 - 12:10 p.m. Complaint of cloudy water in creek; instructed DeSilva Gates to install filter bag to the outflow of the pipe located at the manhole in construction site.
June 21 - Dirty water complaint due to water released from "baker tank' into the storm manhole without filter. Instructed DeSilva Gates to install filter bag at the outflow of the baker tank or use the water from the tank for dust control in the construction site.
July 7 - Complaint of dirty water at 4 p.m. Stayed with contractor until the temporary sediment pond was repaired and improved as recommended by the city.
Note: No fines have been issued since city officials have ruled that the DeSilva Group is cooperating with them..
2004 ContraCostaTimes.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
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