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Claims Against the City of San Diego for Damages From Sewage Spill

SAN DIEGO — Owners living in a condo complex near the Embarcadero are still dealing with the mess from a city sewage backup spill in January.

The City of San Diego said the wastewater error had been fixed, but owners say the city needs to make it right and pay for the damages.

On January 16, around noon, Nancy Kingman said she heard the commotion from the street near her Park Place condo on Harbor Avenue.

“We looked out the window. You could see that the sewage was coming up into the street and flooding the intersection,” said Kingman. “At that time, we didn’t realize it was coming into the building.”

But when the elevators stopped working, they heard it was from a sewage spill piled up in the two-floor garage damaging the elevators, Kingman’s cars, and others parked in the garage as well storage units.

The elevators were shut down for a week; one still isn’t working. Dale Godfrey, who is 84 years old, had to climb 28 floors to his condo. He says the condo complex has been helpful and more accommodating under these circumstances. 

“I got up to about the sixth floor, and I think I rested slightly. Got it up to the ninth floor, and then someone had very politely put a little table they put down some water and a little sign, ‘rest here for a little while on your way out,’” said Godfrey.

He and Kingman didn’t know each other until they spoke to CBS 8 about needing attention to their claims. They filed claims against the city to pay for sewage damages to their personal property.   

“They want to know the age of everything, which is difficult to pinpoint. But I did the best I could,” said Kingman.

Dale says the cost of the damages to his belongings stored in his storage unit adds up to $14,000.00

He had family heirlooms along with a rare collection in his storage unit.

“I had a record collection from the 50s and 60s, 70s. These are things you can’t replace,” said Godfrey.

CBS 8 contacted Arian Collins, the city’s Public Works Department spokesperson.

He says a level sensor at the City’s Pump Station 2 malfunctioned, resulting in 6 pumps shutting down. Wastewater backed up the system and spilled. Collins says the sensors have been replaced and operating normally.

But the claims have not been resolved.

“If they depreciate everything? I think they ought to be fair about it. That’s all. We’re not trying to make money from this thing,” Godfrey said.

The city says it can’t comment on pending claims but did give insight into the matter:

No claims for this event have been denied at this time. The City’s Risk Management Department has received 45 claim forms so far and is aware of additional claimants that intend to file but have not yet done so. Most of the claim forms were received in March 2023 and are in process. Of the 45 claims received to date, four already have tentative settlements. 

Every claim is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Because the vast majority of these involve personal property damaged in the flooding, City staff has needed to seek additional information from the claimants to determine the property’s value to determine a settlement amount. Further, additional internal approvals are required for any claims over $7,000. The Risk Management Department is working to review every claim submitted. As noted earlier, no claims related to this flooding incident have been denied.

Dale hopes the city considers more than the listed price and age of the items but the value of the family mementos that are now just pictures listed in a claim.

“You can’t put $1 value on where your heart is,” said Godfrey.

Source : CBS8