Claims filed against city of San Diego on behalf of flood-impacted residents
A series of legal claims has been filed against the city of San Diego on behalf of residents who were recently displaced by storm- related flooding, it was announced Monday.
The claims allege the city failed to properly manage its stormwater infrastructure, leading to last month's rain-induced flooding that ravaged homes and left many residents without shelter.
Attorneys representing the residents said they are seeking class- action status for "hundreds of claimants" impacted by flooding, and also want the city to establish a stormwater utility in order to fund projects to address stormwater infrastructure needs.
The claims state that the city's "failure to maintain the integrity of its storm drain systems" has caused damage to properties across 17 neighborhoods, with the bulk of the damage felt "primarily in San Diego's impoverished neighborhoods."
The claims state, "As a result of the city of San Diego's failure to maintain its storm drain system in a workable condition, the surface water flow from the January and February 2024 rain has resulted in a taking of, or damage to, hundreds of homes, dwellings, and businesses and the personal property therein."
Similar claims — which are the required precursors to lawsuits — have been announced since the January floods on behalf of other residents throughout the city.
Shane Harris, president of the People's Association of Justice Advocates, said his organization is assisting residents with filing claims.
Harris, who was flanked at a Monday morning news conference by former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre and former Chief Deputy City Attorney Maria Severson, said several people who have filed claims say they've brought up flooding-related issues with the city in the past, but were told, "This is not a priority."
Harris said, "This could have been prevented. The city of San Diego could have taken measures to address this longstanding issue."
Aguirre said city officials have been aware for years of deficiencies in its stormwater funding and outdated infrastructure. He cited a 2018 report from the City Auditor's Office that stated city officials have been informed of stormwater funding problems on a regular basis dating back to the 1990s.
Harris said residents interested in pursuing legal action should visit his organization's website.
The People's Association of Justice Advocates is also launching a flood drive to assist displaced residents.
Harris said that the drive is largely seeking donations of gift cards for restaurants, because many impacted residents cannot use their kitchens to cook meals. Blankets, shoes, socks and toiletries are also being sought.
Donations may be dropped off at People's Association of Justice Advocates headquarters at 6125 Imperial Ave.