A small community of Sand Canyon residents and their golf course neighbor, both worried about flooding since they live near areas left burned and barren by this summer’s Sand Fire, sparked an intervention of sorts Wednesday by city officials called on to help solve a dispute over flood preparation.
About 14 homeowners in a community on the eastern periphery of the Robinson Ranch Golf Club called on city officials this week, concerned that flooding of their only access road would leave them stranded in their own homes, unable to get out.
The one dirt road that extends along Oak Springs Canyon Road links homeowners living near golf course Hole 9 to Sand Canyon Road.
Flooding would most certainly happen, they allege, because golf course officials this week piled a small roadside mountain of dirt that would trap water on the road.
A spokesman for the golf course, however, said the berm was never meant to be permanent.
Dirt was piled at the roadside temporarily, said Robinson spokesman Mark Kagaoan, by workers contracted by the golf course to build a drain that would channel any moving water towards a naturally-occurring stream.
Channeling rainwater moving swiftly down the charred hills denuded of vegetation would keep the water off of the road and off of the golf course near Hole 4.
On Tuesday, golf course officials carried out a flood prevention plan they believed would be mutually beneficial.
“We were just trying to be good neighbors,” Kagaoan said. “We know there’s a rain storm coming so the last thing we want is for the road to be flooded.”
Homeowners, who have lived in the rural setting for more than three decades, have learned how to deal with flooding, said longtime Oak Springs resident Chris Glazier.
“This road always floods,” she said, noting the berm would stop its natural flow onto the golf course.
In fact some Oak Springs homeowners spent their Christmas Eve pulling two cars out of the mud after the winter storm.
And, now they’re bracing for another storm this weekend which is expected to dump up to as much as five inches of rain.
Officials with the National Weather Service have recently, and regularly, issued several advisories about flooding, debris flows and mudslides for anyone living near any of the burn areas created by recent brushfires.
Residents of a community casually referred to as “The End of Oak Springs Canyon Road” were hit hard by the Sand Fire in July. One of the 14 homes was burned to the ground.
The ground around their homes was stripped of vegetation that would normally help absorb runoff.
As a result, a smattering of rain since Monday left the dirt road muddy and filled with fire soot and ash, prompting at least one resident to use a tractor to push dirt off the road.
The problem with that effort, Kagaoan said, is that the dirt was pushed onto golf course property.
As of the next day, golf course officials set moving dirt of their own, much to the alarm of residents who saw only dirt and not the drain, he said.
“With this berm, the road is going to flood. This is our only way in and out to our homes,” Glazier said. “We want to be able to get in and out.”
Glazier’s son, Mike, said the berm would create a “lake” with the next rainfall.
No access would mean no access by emergency response vehicles as well, he said.
“We have one lady living here, she’s 97,” he said. “If she needs medical assistance, how is she going to get it?”
And no access would also mean animals cared for by St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, run by Megan Haselwood, would not get the care they need. She cares for nine horses, 28 dogs and 30 cats.
“Our workers at the kennel would not be able to get in,” she said. “We have three workers that come in every day.”
Concerned, residents called the city of Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and The Signal.
City officials told golf course owners to remove the berm.
“Our Public Works staff has determined that the berm would cause water to pool on the roadway during a storm,” city spokeswoman Carrie Lujan told The Signal Wednesday afternoon.
“Staff is going out now to notify the Robinson owners that they need to restore the original drainage path as soon as possible,” she said mid-afternoon Wednesday.
By 4 p.m., the berm had been removed, Kagaoan said.
And as if the situation couldn’t possibly get any muddier – officials from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife told golf course officials they would need a permit to move any dirt.
“The city of Santa Clarita wants all residents to be aware of the dangers of flooding and mud slides during these winter storms, especially in the burn areas,” Lujan said.
“We have set up a website with important contact numbers and pertinent information about what to do before, during and after inclement weather. That website is ReadyForRain.Santa-Clarita.com.
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