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San Pedro storm drains may cost $7M to fix

February 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation wants to spend about $7 million to fix storm drain problems that caused a San Pedro neighborhood to flood last month.Six property owners near Fourth Street and Grand Avenue filed claims against the city for damage after the flooding.

Many homeowners believe grates covering storm drains to keep trash out caused the flooding, because they were blocked with trash.

However, a recent Bureau of Sanitation memo to Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose 15th District covers San Pedro, shows that even without the grates, the neighborhood would have flooded because the rain exceeded the capacity for the drains.

The memo describes the storm drain system as so overtaxed that "maintenance hole covers were being pushed open," and says runoff in the area was more than three times the carrying capacity of a 72-inch storm drain outlet servicing the areas around Fourth and Fifth streets.

Among the claims received by the city was one from Richards Cleaners at 538 W. Fifth St., which reported damage to its front door, furniture and equipment as a result of flooding.

The claim says the city put a "grill" on the drain, and that "water was unable to go down the drain due to blockage to grill." The form states that "firemen estimate millions of gallons of water entered (the) building" of the business, which has no flood insurance.

The city has spent about $25 million installing 30,000 of the devices, with plans to install 10,000 more.

CNS contributed to this report.