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Plan in the works to fix Cabrillo Basin breach that flooded Los Osos neighborhood

The Los Osos Community Services District is working on a plan to fix the basin that suffered a breach on Jan. 9, 2023.
Posted at 5:49 PM, Feb 08, 2023

About a month ago, an intense storm changed the lives of many residents across the Central Coast.

One of the most impacted neighborhoods was Vista Court in Los Osos, and that is where Alice Stone lives.

“This is my mini kitchen and my poinsettia still blooming,” Stone said as she took us on a tour of her home on Wednesday.

Stone is doing her best to stay positive after her home was wrecked by a flood on Jan. 9, 2023.

“I could hear this roaring, and I look out the garage door and I could see this coming at me, it came through the fence," she described.

Where did all that water come from? The Cabrillo Retention Basin.

Ron Munds is the general manager of the Los Osos Community Services District (LOCSD), which is the agency in charge of managing the basin.

Munds said his fire chief called him to inform him of a breach on Jan. 9, 2023.

“That there was a breach in the drainage basin wall which caused mud and water to flow down into the neighborhood,” Munds explained.

The first phase of the basin was built in 1972 and the second phase in 1994. At that time, it was the county that oversaw it.

“The Los Osos Community Services District was formed in 1998 in order to take over services that were previously handled by County Service Area 9 (CSA). This included transfer of the basin properties,” said a San Luis Obispo County spokesperson in a statement. “Since that time the CSD has been responsible for maintenance and operations of these facilities with no County involvement.”

Munds said the LOCSD took over the basin in 2000.

“As part of the design, there's a drain outfall at the west side of the basin, which was designed to then keep the water level before the top, before it would top the base walls,” he explained.

With more rain in the forecast last month, Munds said the district made a temporary fix to prevent further damage, which worked.

“This berm, about an extra two to three feet compacted, it widened to give it some more stability,” Munds said. “Then the culvert down there, which was designed to take the water from the west to the east into that section of the basin, we put in the inflatable plug.”

A quick fix that cost about $125,000, but now, the district is working on a long-term solution that Munds said could cost close to $900,000.

“We were looking at inner fund loans from our fire fund and our water fund,” Munds added.

Those funds have yet to be approved by the board, and what the basin will look like is still in the works.

“They're working on the geotechnical work, which is soil analysis, they'll do some coring,” Munds said. “We've had surveyors out to get the topography and get it mapped out and a civil engineer will then develop plans to secure the breach.”

Munds said those results should be ready to go by the end of February. Once the plan is approved, Munds said it could get fixed within two to three weeks.

In the meantime, the LOCSD's insurance carrier has hired a third party to investigate the cause of the breach.

“What they have done is brought in an adjuster and that person has toured every home and is going to come up with a value of the type of damage,” Munds added. 

Back on Vista Court, clean-up efforts continue four weeks later.

“I've spent a lot of money already, but FEMA gave me some money,” Stone said.

But insurance issues continue to haunt many residents, including Stone.

“The insurance agent wouldn't even come out and take a look at the place. He said, we don't have flood insurance, so that's that,” Stone said.

FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are still making rounds across the Central Coast to assist impacted residents.

“If you have not heard from your insurance company, please bring the information into our recovery center. The state has representatives here that can help you through that process,” recommended Renee Bafalis, a FEMA Media Relations Specialist.

Stone said she hopes to have her bedrooms and bathrooms ready by the end of the month.

“I'm so thankful for all the volunteers that have helped,” Stone said. “We've had wonderful people. ”

The LOCSD will meet on Thurs., March 2 to approve funding for the repair of the Cabrillo Basin.

The district said they are also applying for some FEMA assistance.