Monday, February 4, 2013

Bungled Bureaucracy: Act I, Scene I

In March 2004, after experiencing the first winter of flooding and when the water seemed to be “at bay”, so to speak, it was time to try to figure out the cause of the problem or at least find someone who could.  It was time to take a trip to the City of Richmond’s engineering department and visit with Rich Davidson, Richmond City Engineer.

I explained to Mr. Davidson what had happened during the rains and showed him the pictures I had taken during our first winter including a photo of our 1963 Ford Falcon that had water half way up the doors. 

1963 Ford Falcon

He provided me with a copy of an area drainage map and said that he would research the situation and get back to me.

Approximately two weeks later I received a copy of a letter that Rich Davidson wrote to the managing partner of the commercial property at 5221 Central Avenue which is adjacent to the properties that experience flooding.  

Davidson said: 

“Our records indicate that the drainage ditch on the east side of your property at 5221 Central Avenue is within your property boundaries.”...“We do not have record of any maintenance easements along this ditch in your property.  Unless there is an existing maintenance easement that provides adequate access for the City to conduct the maintenance, the responsibility of ditch maintenance lies with the property owner.”

Based on this letter from the one person who is supposed to be the most knowledgeable of the stormwater system, Richmond’s city engineer, we were under the belief and reasonable assumption that the responsibility for maintenance, or lack thereof, and thus the neighborhood flooding, rested with the commercial property owner.

We were relieved to know a responsible party had been named and where to focus our efforts in getting the neighborhood flooding problem resolved.

Little did we know that Rich Davidson’s letter was erroneous, egregious, and the result of a failure to research the history of the construction of the commercial property and that we would spend the next two-plus years misplacing our energy...

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