San Francisco lawsuit alleges PG&E gas line project caused landslide

- San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed a lawsuit against PG&E alleging that the utility's negligent work caused a landslide last year that destroyed one home and damaged five others.

The lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court seeks to recover all costs the city has incurred in dealing with the landslide, which so far include $6.7 million paid to six homeowners, $600,000 in construction contingencies and more than $500,000 in attorneys' fees.

City officials allege the January 2016 landslide between Casitas Avenue and Miraloma Drive occurred after PG&E relocated gas lines from under sidewalk to under Casitas Avenue, directly next to a city water main and perpendicular to lateral connections.

PG&E released a statement in response:

"The fires are still burning across Northern California. Our primary focus is the life safety and well-being of the customers and communities affected by the devastating wildfires. We are working diligently to get their electric and gas service restored for their immediate needs. We are aware that a lawsuit has been filed," said Tamar Sarkissian, PG&E Spokesperson.

The lawsuit alleges that PG&E filled the trench with the wrong material and failed to properly compact it, putting stress on at least one water lateral at 234 Casitas Ave. and causing it to break.

The leak flowed into the uncompacted trench and on to the slope where the landslide occurred.

One home at 256 Casitas Ave. had to be demolished after city engineers found it was in imminent danger of sliding down the hillside into neighboring homes.

"Homeowners were faced with a dangerous situation when their houses were suddenly threatened by this landslide," Herrera said in a statement.

"PG&E's shoddy work caused this problem, but the company is trying to shirk its responsibility," he said.

PG&E's franchise agreement with the city includes a requirement that it cover the costs of all repairs to public property caused by the utility's work.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that PG&E's gas line relocation was a factor that caused the landslide and order the utility to correct the construction defects or pay the city's costs to relocate its water pipes, as well as cover the city's costs for the landslide.

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