Los Osos residents file claims, blame CSD for catastrophic failure

January 24, 2023

Catastrophic failure of Los Osos retention basin results in mudslide


At least 13 residents have filed claims against the Los Osos Community Services District seeking financial compensation for mudslide and flood damage to their homes with multiple victims accusing the district of negligence.

Decades ago, contractors built a retention basin at the base of the Cabrillo Estates, a subdivision on a hillside on the way to Montana de Oro. The retention basin was constructed in an attempt to protect neighboring, lower-elevation properties.

However, on Jan. 9, the basin burst, leading to hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and mud crashing into Vista de Oro Estates. A raging river of water and mud filled homes with up to three and a half feet of mud, water and debris.

The raging debris and water flow damaged 20 homes.

The Los Osos district is responsible for upkeep of the retention basin. District staff said they checked the basin on Jan. 9, and it was not full. It is unknown at this time if the district was providing proper upkeep of the basin.

Following the disaster, homeowners discovered their home insurance policies would not cover the damage, because it is related to flooding from a storm.

Because of that, many homeowners are in the middle of the long, tedious process of seeking assistance through the Los Osos district, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, neighbors and nonprofits.

The 13 current claims to the Los Osos district seek damages from under $10,000 to more than $800,000. In the claims, multiple residents accuse the district of not properly maintaining the basin.

“Due to negligent maintenance of a public facility my house was red tagged as unsafe and uninhabitable,” according to the claim for the homeowner at 241 Vista Court. “The structure, property and all personal belongings were destroyed.”

A homeowner at 233 Vista Court is seeking housing for her and her disabled son along with repairs for their home, which was yellow tagged.

“A catastrophic failure of public infrastructure (CSD retention pond) owned and maintained by Los Osos Community Services District resulted in debris, sand and mud to inundate my home,” according to the claim for the homeowner at 233 Vista Court. “I cannot live in my home. I need funds to even begin the remediation process.”

Since the storm, the district’s insurance carrier sent a third-party civil engineer and insurance adjuster to assess the damage.

However, the primary issue for many homeowners is liability: was the basin failure caused by the storm or related to negligent maintenance. If the district failed to properly maintain the basin, it could be financially responsible.

The Los Osos district board is holding a special meeting on Tuesday evening to provide an update and to give direction to staff regarding the damage to the basin and Vista de Oro Estates.

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Well, you move from your bedrock big city, to the hillside of a sand dune artist colony, and you got exactly what you should have expected.

It’s like buying cheap land and building a house on the side of Mount St. Helens, without doing a smidgen of research about the area.

But, OH! What a view! At least, for now…

Cash grab :/ Years of dry weather then a major storm is easy math. Look how many mudslides occurred on Highway 1. Can’t expect the government, local or otherwise, to mitigate every single possible disaster. Take some responsibility, and note of your surroundings, and prepare thusly. A simple shovel dug trench on the border of your property would have likely sufficed or at least prevented extensive damage to your home. TLDR = If you care so much, protect your home to begin with.

Classic clueless post!

There are red tagged and yellow tagged homes in that area. The water took out fences, retaining walls, sheds.

Now, there are dumpers clogging the street with homeowners tossing furniture, flooring ect. There are people living in cars/RVs. There are volunteers going house to house helping anyway they can.

I saw the water line in an open garage. It was like 2.5 to 3 feet high.

How deep of a sandy trench were these people supposed to dig around their homes?

Whoa! How terribly harsh you are on these unsuspecting flood victims who have tragically lost everything.

To your point about HWY 1: Neither man, nor government, built the cliffs above the highway that nature has its way with every storm.

Contrarily: This retention basin captures the runoff from a manmade subdivision with nearly 200 homes at a much higher elevation just south of Vista de Oro. A human engineer designed it, a human built it, humans from San Luis Obispo County inspected and approved the design and construction and then, over these many years since it was built, humans at San Luis Obispo County first and now Los Osos CSD maintain(ed) it.

It is unlikely most of these residents even knew the retention basin was there, let alone need to worry about it.