Santee

Santee Residents Fear Sinkholes Dangerously Close to Homes

The City of Santee is now taking action to shore up sinkholes caused by aging infrastructure

Some Santee residents say sinkholes have opened up dangerously close to their homes while the city argues over who is responsible.

The collapse of old city drainage pipes running under private property is the problem.

On Monday, city crews covered up one sinkhole, 6-feet wide and 6-feet deep. Workers also shored up a larger hole between two homes on West Hartland Circle.

It's the first effort made to contain this growing problem, but the solution still seems a long way off.

Since January, Sergio Guerre, a father of three children, said he has watched the sinkhole grow five times its original size.

"The one I worry about is the 3 year old," Guerre said. "You can only control him so much."

On the other side of the fence is neighbor Vernon Gilmore. He told NBC 7, he cares for an aging mother-in-law and a 3-year-old grandchild.

“I thought this is where I was going to stay forever but like I said, if it's not safe, it's not worth staying around,” Gilmore said.

A 24-inch drain pipe between the homes used to channel water away from West Hartland Circle collapsed some time ago. Heavy rains washed away the soil, causing two sizable sink holes to form.

“I am out here at all hours of the night constantly waking up in the middle of the night and coming down," Guerre said.

While it's a City of Santee drain pipe, homeowners received letters saying it was their responsibility to fix it.

"They say they have been working on this problem for months but they haven't talked to us," Gilmore said.

Attorney Patrick Catalano filed two complaints on the homeowner's behalf. Catalano said four more clients have similar issues with the city.

Repairing the aging infrastructure and shoring up homes could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I'm cautious because there are band aid fixes and there are real fixes,” Catalano said.

"Is it going to stop or is it going to continue? At what point is my house in danger," Guerre asked.

The City Manager declined to comment for our story.

According to a Development Services report presented to the Santee City Council last week, there are 12 such drain systems on private property.

It's estimated replacing or repairing them all would cost the city more than $1 million.

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