Brendan Weber

Teetering on the Edge: Pleasanton Backyards Crumble into Creek

A number of Pleasanton backyards plagued by erosion are slowly crumbling into a nearby creek.

At least three backyards along the 7800 block of Foothill Road have fallen into the Arroyo de la Laguna waterway, and they continue to do so even as the rainy season subsides.

The Army Corp of Engineers must approve an emergency permit until any repair work can take place. That process could take another two to three weeks to complete, bringing uneasiness to a community already unsettled by the Mother Nature's wrath.

"It's just day by day, second by second," homeowner Ginger Belshe said. "Not even really living anymore."

Belshe estimates the erosion caused by the soaking wet winter has chopped off roughly 30 feet of her backyard, leaving her pool dangerously close to the edge of the cliff.

"We don't know what we're going to wake up to," she said. "I have two teenagers that don't know at night when they go to bed if we're going to have to get them up to move out of our house because we don't know what's happening back there."

Homeowner Ted Smith is taking out his frustration with local public agencies for not doing more to prevent the creek from widening by more than 100 feet over the past few years.

"Nobody's really paying attention to it until it comes to an emergency need," he said. "Now, all of a sudden, everyone wants to come out, help out."

The Zone 7 Water Agency, which manages the water in the Livermore-Amador Valley area, said it does not own the section of the creek that is battling the erosion. Homeowners who live along the creek's banks are the responsible owners.

The water agency, however, has hired surveyors to formulate a fix. That plan is expected to be presented in front of the Army Corps of Engineers in the near future. Board members from the water agency may also provide grant money to assist with repairs. That decision will be discussed next Wednesday during a board meeting.

In the meantime, Belshe, who had plans in place to list her home on the market just before her backyard started to disappear, must play the waiting game.

"Hopefully at some point we will have a solution but for right now, really just (living) day by day," she said.

Nearby railroad tracks resting along the creek were inspected Tuesday, according to a Union Pacific Railroad spokesperson. The tracks were determined to be safe.

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