Areas of the North Bay are bracing for some of the heaviest rain this weekend including parts of Marin County that see some of the most significant flood dangers.
San Anselmo city officials told NBC Bay Area Saturday that flooding could occur later on when they get more big rain storms, but for now, the first big storm will probably just saturate the soils.
With no measurable rain for months, San Anselmo Creek is just a trickle but people who live and work in the area know it doesn’t take much to send the creek soaring right up to the bottom of two historic bridge decks that hover over the creek and have a makeshift park and businesses perched on top of them.
“So, when there’s big water coming down, it backs up and goes over into San Anselmo Avenue,” said Ford Greene of the San Anselmo Town Council.
In really big events, like 11 months ago, when 12 inches fell in a short period of time some businesses did flood, and the whole downtown took on water in 2006 and in the 1980’s.
Pat Townsley owner of Creekside Pizza and Taproom, that sits right on top of the widest bridge decking and his building has flooded before.
“That first rain, it carries all the branches and the trees and it starts bumping under all the buildings and against the i-beams over here and you can literally feel the building shaking,” he said.
“But certainly, as the winter moves on, and as the grounds get saturated, and there’s more water in the creek, the opportunities for flooding become higher and higher,” said Brian Colbert of the San Anselmo Town Council.
Long-term, the city and county are concerned about the future of the second bridge, that’s much narrower.
The building that was on it was torn down two years ago and work to remove it has been on hold during the pandemic. So, the city erected a plaza, where community members and visitors could enjoy the downtown.
Townley said the narrowing gap actually causes the back up in San Anselmo and flooding and at least two county engineering reports have deemed it unsafe during earthquakes. He’s been keeping an eye on cracks forming under the bridge for some time.
“That one is actually failing that way. You can see a crack running the entire length of this 40-foot some odd building here,” he said.
Colbert, who helped brainstorm the plaza project, said if the county deems it unsafe, it may need to come down, but the main goal is addressing the long-term flooding issues, safety concerns with the bridge and open space around the creek that the public can enjoy.
“I retain laser focus, as I always have been on, what’s a community solution to provide this common space,” he said.
Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice said public safety is the main concern and she doesn’t expect flooding either right now. She added the county hopes to work with the town council to come up with solutions that both sides can agree on to alleviate future flood dangers and the safety concerns of this century old bridge.
Source: NBC Bay Area