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Homeowners Suing City Over Broken Storm Drain Could Wait 4 Years Before Fix

The sinkhole happened in front of Kensington resident Tom Evons’ home; he said the storm drain that collapsed had long been a problem in the neighborhood

A Kensington couple says the city's negligence is to blame for a pair of sinkholes that have opened up near their property, and they fear further deferred action will wash away more than just taxpayer dollars.

The pair of sinkholes lie on both sides of a fence that separates Tom and Teri Evons' property on the 4100-block of Rochester Road from a steep natural canyon.

Tom said he spotted the first sinkhole on the canyon side of the fence forming early last week. He and Terry noticed a second hole forming between the fence and sidewalk, parallel with a storm drain, on Friday night and by Saturday morning it had become 4 feet deep.

A city public works crew was called to the area to evaluate the sinkhole; the storm drain where it originated was cordoned with yellow caution tape and orange traffic cones.

Tom told NBC 7 that two years ago the city installed a new high-velocity storm drain system in the neighborhood, but connected it to a decades-old pipe that runs underneath the sidewalk.

That pipe, Tom says, was installed 50 years ago and has since rusted and rotted out completely. His pictures of the pipe show that it has no bottom, and shows feet of dirt that once sat beneath it has been washed away.

"It's like putting a firehose next to a broken straw," Tom said. Several day-long storms were too much for the drain to handle, according to Tom, and that's what he says lead to the sinkholes and erosion in the canyon.

“So [this sinkhole] has gauged out about a 14-foot gauge out of the canyon wall,” he explained.

Stress fractures in the dirt and sinking shrubs on the edge of the canyon have the Evons fearing a small landslide at the least, or worse, the sidewalk or even their driveway falling into the canyon.

“I am more mad than I am scared. It's not only soil that’s rushing away, it’s taxpayer dollars."

Tom says he and his wife sued the city over the issue in 2018 and have a hearing scheduled in September, but they've been told by the city that they might have to wait as long as four years before a fix is made.

NBC 7 San Diego
The sinkhole formed along Rochester Road in Kensington overnight after an old storm drain collapsed.

“It’s been a frustrating process,” said Evons. “They’re just too busy."

Evons said the latest sinkholes are proof that the problem is getting worse.

“It’s dramatic. It’s unnecessary,” Evons lamented. “They are letting our property and our neighbor’s property get destroyed because they don’t think it’s urgent enough to take care of. It’s an ongoing, slow trainwreck that has now reached the surface.”

The City of San Diego Public Works Department told NBC 7 it could not comment on pending litigation.

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