Video: San Francisco business owner preparing for El Niño


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) —  One San Francisco business owner, who has been flooded out before, is working to complete a project aimed at keeping his property dry this year.

The owner of a Mission District auto shop has hired a crew to dig up his parking lot and then build it up to be higher than the street. That is to keep what happened many times before from happening again.

A mix of rain and sewage backs up when the downpours get too heavy for the city’s system to handle it. What you cannot see is the damage that was done to his customers cars.

He is not the only one in this area to get flooded out. Cellphone video shows the same muck inside the Stable Café.

The city paid for the cleanup of these properties, and now the Public Utility Commission is reimbursing property owners for this type of work by way of their Floodwater Grant Program.

“So, this is a really innovative program because we are paying property owners to do work on their own homes and businesses, so people are taking advantage of this program,” a PUC spokeswoman said. “They are getting reimbursed to put in backflow preventers. There are all sorts of things people can do to keep that water out, and we are encouraging people to do it.”

Auto shop owner Hans Art thinks the bill for this work will run close to $50,000. He said the city would pay him back $30,000, but Hans might end up actually turning that down.

He said the city attorney is asking him to sign something that would make him liable if the flood work doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.

And he is afraid that would cost him a lot more in the long run.

“I’m just a small business, and I have to be real careful,” Art said. “Thirty-thousand might save me a whole lot more liability.”

The city says this is just a stopgap measure until they can work on a solution to try and keep this area from flooding during heavy downpours.

But they expect that to take years to engineer and cost hundreds of millions, if not billions.

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