Codornices Creek: Dreamscape...

April 29 ~ May 2, 2007

This story began on the morning of January 2, 1997, with near-torrential El Nino rains that pummelled the greater Bay Area. The streets covering the hills of Berkeley served to channel the rising tide of water runoff into the nine creeks that run from the crest of the Berkeley hills down to San Francisco Bay. The Codornices Creek watershed carves out a major section of the north Berkeley hills, and the entire runoff flows down the hills and passes through the culvert under Beverly Place, emptying into a raceway in our back yard - on this date the flood waters were raging out of the culvert mouth at the top of the opening, some 7 feet high and 5 feet wide - the roar was incredible, and the effect frightening...

Most all of the creek culverts and concrete lined creek beds throughout the city were constructed in the early 1900s. They are all in varying states of deterioration and decay today. Over the years Codornices Creek has eroded through the bottom of the culvert under Beverly Place, and through the concrete lined bottom of the creekbed running through our back yard. The effects of the water flow also weakened the retaining wall up on the creek bank on the east side, while also undercutting the cement wall on the west side and the creek bed itself.
On this fateful morning the retaining wall collapsed into the creek, and was carried downstream by the powerful flow. Thus began our legal sojourn through the halls of the City of Berkeley seeking remedy for our plight, specifically the replacement of the retaining wall on our property...

It took some six years of legal wrangling to end up in mediation, with a settlement between the city and us as property owners to share in funding the retaining wall replacement project - an upper limit to the shared costs was negotiated by the attorneys involved, and confirmed by the mediating judge.

So much for an historical perspective - the photos here chronicle the replacement of the retaining wall, this some 10 years later. We begin with the back yard as an overgrown nature sanctuary - we had let it go, not wanting to do any landscaping until the retaining wall was replaced, not knowing what construction equipment, if any, might be needed here. As there is no access to the back yard through our property, we then take a look at the neighbor's driveway and backyard, the access and location where the excavator will operate to do its work in our back yard...


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