Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster? title=
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?
16 Comments
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By an edhat reader

In reviewing the FEMA flood predictive maps several months ago, it was amazing how prescient these long-standing documents were regarding the 2018 disaster in Montecito.  These small watersheds have debris basins along East Mountain Drive. Unfortunately, these basins were overwhelmed by a worse-case scenario few people could imagine.

It can be unsettling to realize how vulnerable a community can be situated downstream from a presumably benign natural creek. Unfortunately immediately west of the devastating effects of the Tomas Fire Burn Zone lays the Sycamore Creek watershed, an area encompassing foothill range extending from Westmont College to Gibralter Rd, funneling down to the roundabout at A.P.S. and Montecito St. where the new bridge is being constructed.  At this convergence of city streets meeting the fast traveling creek the flood water hits the flat land,  the primordial alluvial plain of Santa Barbara's east side community.

Any citizen residing in the lower east side would presume that Sycamore Creek would have a nicely maintained debris basin to intercept this kind of mudslide fire aftermath. If automobile-sized boulders could smash through the estates of Montecito, could the 100-year-old bungalows of Soledad St. fair any better?  No...

A quarter of Santa Barbara central eastside flatland grid, Salinas St., Canada St, Soledad St., Voluntario St., Alisos St. have no debris basin upstream.  Just like the residents of live Mill Rd., this working-class area has ten of thousands of Santa Barbara's citizens living without a clue of the potential harm. 
Let us not repeat 2018 again.

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Flicka Aug 09, 2018 01:44 PM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

You not only need to know the risks of living next to a creek, you need to have the sense to get out during heavy rains. Especially if there is a flash flood warning and not blame the officials for not telling you to get out. Even if they do warn you, some people are too arrogant to leave (it happened in the debris flow).

a-1558720475 Aug 09, 2018 11:57 AM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

Hailing from the east coast, where water is always a major problem, I would never ever live near a creek especially one below mountains. It's just drilled into you re: flooding - you look out for it, and any signs of it - as there is much more rain back east. People like the idea of it, living near a creek and listening to it babble, but you are in a risk zone (just like in fire zones) Sure, maybe these are 100 year or even 200 year events, but who wants to be there when it inevitably happens again, which it will. Sorry for the loss of property or life but really, when you chose where to live you really have to accept the risks it comes with.

pstarSR Aug 09, 2018 09:18 AM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

Any time you live or inhabit near a creek or river you run the risk of flooding. Any time you have a mountain range you have water run off that accumulates fast at the bottom of the slope. we have both. so regardless of what the maps say, I have seen and been here for a few floods. It will happen, and It will happen again. I wont live near these "run off" creeks, they are where rain water goes from the mountains we love so much. I just hope people that do choose to live close to these creeks keep this in the back of their minds, and when the time comes for another heavy rain. they dont argue the inconvenience of evacuating.

El Barbareno Aug 09, 2018 07:58 AM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

The 1925 earthquake opened Sheffield Reservoir and sent 25 million gallons of water down Sycamore Canyon flooding the lower east side. The papers reported a 20 foot wall of water came down the canyon. No one died, although several cows from a dairy in Sycamore Canyon were possible victims.

a-1558720475 Aug 08, 2018 02:54 PM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

Rocky Nook Park, up from the Mission, was formed by exactly the same type of event as the Jan 9 debris flow, so this really is nothing new. And for the commenter thinking people are asking for a "risk free" life, I don't think anyone is asking for that. However, there is such a thing as risk mitigation. If you know that running out onto the 101 could cause serious injury or death, you don't do it. You mitigate your risk. That doesn't mean you won't ever get hit by a car ever. See how that works.

a-1558720475 Aug 08, 2018 01:25 PM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

Y'know, if we demanded a risk free life maybe we should move to another planet. Kids can't go to school without being shot at, in school not just on their way to it. Grannies can't cross the road to get to the store without being run over by bicyclists, motorists, motorcyclists and even skateboarders or mom pushing prams. In Flint MI they still can't drink the tap water... I can't either in Noleta but for another reason entirely. And farmers won't be able to bring their crops to market because Genius Leader got into an shouting match with China trying to prove his little hands have little to do with his thin skin.

SBZZ Aug 08, 2018 01:08 PM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

The SC drainage is smaller and does not extend as high up the mountain as say the Montecito Creek drainage and so it presents a lower risk. Plus it has 5 little branches and so about the only place to put a debris dam there is where they meet at Sycamore Cyn Rd. and Stanwood Dr. But that area has several homes, so not going to happen. Only solution is to be aware of situations and prepare to evacuate if it pours and pours.

sea dog Aug 08, 2018 08:43 AM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

Flooding on that creek is caused by the hole under the freeway being too small to hold all the water. It then backs up and floods the mobile home parks there. The creek channel is poorly designed as it gets smaller going down stream.

CoastWatch Aug 08, 2018 08:39 AM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

I remember when Sycamore Creek DID have boulders the size of cars coming downstream like leaves off a tree... It also carried the body of a retired Federal Judge all the way down to the lower East Side from the Riviera.... History will repeat itself- it usually does.

sb93105 Aug 08, 2018 01:24 PM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

I read the report its an amazing piece of information, its hard to accept that we were aware of where the water goes- we have seen it before - why didn't they look back just 2 decades to warn people ?

PitMix Aug 08, 2018 11:06 AM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

Check out the report done in 1995 by Flood Control, 1995FloodsRpt.pdf. Shows pics of extensive flooding in 1995. I don't remember anything from the 1998 storms. LA Times reported a house lost and damage on Sycamore Canyon Road but not as much as the watersheds east of there.

PitMix Aug 08, 2018 08:34 AM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

At least those little houses have a 2nd floor, so if it is just flooding and not high velocity flows, the people will be safe until they are rescued. Debris basins are not the answer to every problem. They take a lot of expensive land, and they are expensive to clean out once they fill up. How much of that watershed is developed, and would the debris from the undeveloped portions be able to make it down to Montecito Street during a flood event? When is the last time it flooded? All those questions would have to be answered before they could even consider it.

a-1558720475 Aug 08, 2018 08:21 AM
Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?

The recently built, state-approved "mobile home" park on Punta Gorda right next to the freeway is built within a few feet of the top of Sycamore Creek. It violates many city rules about setback from the creek (and the freeway) but was approved by the state over the objections from the city. What happens to those little houses when Sycamore Creek floods?

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