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Illegal Work in the Basin, March 2005

Damming the Creek

Tree stump and dam

Former creek bed

Forcing a right turn

Did the City Violate its own Creek Protection Ordinance?

Did the City violate its own Creek Protection Ordinance? The answer is evident in the evasion and refusal by the City to explain why they issued a low level, administrative Category II Creek Permit for major earthwork undertaken in the Ridgemont Basin. In the following email to Friends of Sausal Creek, Ralph Kanz explains why this permit should not have been issued as a Category II.

From: "Ralph Kanz" <rkanz@earthlink.net>
To: fosc-sausalcreek.org@lists.sausalcreek.org
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 08:48:18 -0800
Subject: Creek Ordinance

As Karen Paulsell recently reported there are problems with enforcement of Oakland's Creek Protection Ordinance.  Unfortunately the problem seems to be getting worse and goes far beyond vegetation clearing for fire suppression.  More than two months ago I made a request to the City to see the Creek Permit for the Leona Quarry project.  55 days later I finally got to see the permit.  They did not want to release the information for good reason. 

The project at Leona Quarry involved work in the basin at the base of the upper reach of Chimes Creek where it enters the quarry.  Work took place in the creek bed, including the installation of a trash rack with significant excavation on site.  The Creek Protection Ordinance lists four categories of permits This project requires a category IV permit because it was in the creek bed.  The City chose to issue a Category II permit.  As the Creek Ordinance states a Category II permit "does not include earthwork, and is more than one hundred (100) feet from the center line of the creek to the location of the development or work."  The ordinance does allow for the reclassification of a category if certain findings are made. No findings were made in this case.  Claudia Cappio, the development director for the City made the decision that this would be a Category II permit without the required findings, and the ordinance only allows the Chief of Building Services to make the decision.

Why the reclassification?  Section 13.16.140 of the ordinance states: "Categories I and II are ministerial actions and therefore exempt from CEQA. Categories III and IV are discretionary actions and therefore subject to CEQA review. Reclassification by the Chief of Building Services is discretionary and therefore subject to CEQA review."  The reclassification was an attempt to prevent California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the creek permit. CEQA review requires public notification and public review of the permit.  The City has violated its own Creek Protection Permit so that a politically connected developer can impact a creek without regards for its impact. 

There are many other problems at Leona Quarry.  The City has failed to enforce the mitigation measures for the project, and the homeowners below the project along Chimes Creek are literally seeing property wash away. 

When will the Creek Ordinance get enforced?  We will continue to see politicians claim they support the ordinance, and that it is wonderful, but without real enforcement it is meaningless. 

Ralph Kanz

Where is the Ridgemont Basin?

The Ridgemont Basin is located at the base of the upper reaches of Chimes Creek where it enters the Quarry. (Click thumbnail to see full size image)

"Leona Quarry has a creek.  It is in the upland portion noted in the EIR. It is subject to state, federal and local laws. Water flowing across the site is considered runoff.  It must be clean before exiting the construction area."

Lesley Estes
Acting Environmental Services Manager
Public Works Agency,  City of Oakland
Monday, June 28, 2004
Map Location
Basin Diagram

What City Officials are Saying (or Not Saying)

Click on the links to see full text

  • 28 Nov 2005   Mark Brest van Kempen follows up with Ron Ward
    Re: Creek Permit for Ridgemont Basin ("...since ...this situation may have crossed a legal line, I would like the name of the official that made the determination that a category II permit was all that was required for this work and their reasoning.")

The Completed Work

Here are pictures of the completed work done (as of early November, 2005) in the Ridgemont Basin. This is the work that the City halted to sort out if a Creek Permit was needed etc etc. The pictures show water that is contiguous to the Creek above about five feet from the structure. The structure is surrounded by saturated soil and is full of water inside.

They must have had creek water flowing directly into their excavation as they were working.
They regraded the whole front section of the basin, buried a multi-ton precast structure 10- 15 feet under ground and it was all done 10-20 feet from the creek in the Ridgemont basin...apparently all with no earthwork!
The attached pictures show contiguous water from the creek about 5 feet from the structure. Those metal bollards define a large underground concrete structure that they put in.

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