Sidewalks Sinking In San Francisco’s Mission Bay Neighborhood – CBS San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO – The sidewalks in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood are sinking, and owners say it will be too expensive to fix.
“It definitely looks like something is wrong.” Ian Fregosi said.
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“Either the sidewalks are going down or the buildings are going up,” said Berley Farber as he watched the cracks in Long Bridge Street.
You can see the gaps on almost every single street corner.
“Mission Bay was built on a landfill. We knew it was an old freight yard that was being built in a landfill,” said Rachel Gordon of the San Francisco Public Works Department.
She says it is ultimately the builder’s responsibility to pay the bill for supporting the sidewalk. The owners can either rent the city to take care of it or a private contractor. Gordon says the city is trying not to punish, but legally there could be fines if the loopholes are not repaired.
“I’ve always joked that it’s like Venice, like there could be water around all of these buildings,” said Jennifer Smith Dolin, the vice president of operations for Mercy Housing.
Smith Dolin long-term says the nonprofit cannot afford to keep paying for it.
“The fix and the amount of money we have available probably won’t add up. So if we are to find a longer-term solution, we need to raise funds to support it,” said Smith Dolin.
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She also fears that the constant corrections could have a detrimental effect on the cafe next door, that in a difficult year “adding another hurdle is devastating for her”.
Larry Karp is a geotechnician who investigated the now infamous demise of San Francisco’s Millennium Tower, which sank 18 inches in total. Karp says the structures in Mission Bay are safer, they were built as bedrock because it is a liquefaction zone and is still the main outlet for water from all of the city’s underground streams.
“There is soft soil from higher elevations that is washed into the lowlands. The fill adds weight to the soft soil and consolidates the soft soil, as it consolidates it loses height so that it settles, but the buildings are fine “said Karp.
The buildings are designed to withstand an earthquake, but the sidewalks and streets are not.
Karp says the soil is sinking faster than originally predicted and that every time a builder fixes the problem, the problem is likely to worsen, restoring it makes the soil heavier and the sidewalks sink faster.
“This is difficult to fix because once you fix it, the whole process starts all over again,” Karp said.
The city records obtained from KPIX show that the number of repair calls is steadily increasing. In the past year, 59 locations were identified by the city as in need of repair, compared to around 10 visits per year 10 years ago. Most of them have not yet been finalized.
It’s an expensive problem that doesn’t go away and is a little worrying for nonprofits.
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“Anything that interferes with providing affordable housing to people in San Francisco is disappointing. It’s not about fixing a sidewalk,” said Smith Dolin.