Improved rain drainage needed in streets

Katrina Mossberger

In Southern California, rain isn’t exactly a common occurrence. Sunshine abounds and the weather is pretty stable. However, when it does rain, the lack of proper drainage always leaves drivers around CSUN tepidly driving through overflowing puddles, the lowered cars afraid they might stall out their engine.

Of course, it’s not just a CSUN problem. It’s a Los Angeles County problem. Avenue San Luis in Woodland Hills between Fallbrook and Shoup has a large dip that will flood during any amount of substantial rain, closing that stretch of road.

Despite that, at least in my daily driving around town, I always notice an incredible buildup of excess drainage in the streets surrounding CSUN. Drive along any of the surrounding streets and you can’t help but notice the rivers of water flowing along the sidewalks. It’s not uncommon for the water to be nearly as high as the sidewalk. Heaven help you if you park along the street near the dorms on Lindley. The water becomes so backed up amongst the car’s tires that it makes it impossible to get into your car without getting wet from the passing river.

The crosswalks near the B3 and B5 parking lots on West University Drive thankfully have little ramps that allow us to get past those giant running puddles without chancing the large jump.

When the water builds up until it’s so deep that cars slow to a crawl to turn right or layer of water running along the street causes a constant spray as cars drive by, we’ve got an issue with drainage.

It’s not surprising that we have terrible drainage issues. In an area that enjoys pleasant weather most of the year, rain drainage probably isn’t very high on the list of planning agendas. But perhaps it should be.

Certainly, we’re a lot better off than we were. According to the Los Angeles County Drainage Area Model study, flooding has been recorded as early as 1811 in the county. The model study also reports that in 1938, a county-wide flood killed 49 people and caused $40 million in damages. So changes have been made for the better, channeling rain runoff to be more of a nuisance than anything life-threatening.

I’m willing to bet part of the reason that a drainage problem has not, and won’t be, addressed for a while is the money, time and effort involved in renovating our current runoff system. I don’t see anyone volunteering to undertake such a project anytime soon, until the drainage does become life-threatening.

The last time it rained, I saw the Los Angeles River, while passing over on Winnetka, fuller than I’d ever seen it, but it had room for a lot more water. If only there was a way to improve how the water drains off the streets and into the river, things could be a lot better.

Let’s face it, we Angelinos are not at our peak driving while driving in the rain, myself included. Traffic accidents can double their normal amount during the rain. Most of us drive much, much slower, crawling along to prevent accidents and some people still speed by, now on slick roads, giving us all heart attacks. Lessening the amount of water that stagnates around street corners and sidewalks may help, if only a tiny bit.

Some of you may think I’m crazy, complaining about rain drainage along sidewalks, but wait around for another good rain and take a drive around CSUN and the surrounding areas. You may be surprised at the little rivers that are rolling past you as you drive by.