Road repair deal finally in the works for Cavendish Lane

A temporary fix to a narrow street that has left four Piedmont homeowners in a state of quasi-isolation may now become full-fledged repairs, thanks to an agreement between Piedmont and Oakland officials.

Details of when Piedmont will be reimbursed for fixing an Oakland-owned street, and how much money will come, await the outcome of a lawsuit against an Oakland homeowner that city contends caused the  February 2017 damages to Cavendish Lane, a narrow, unassuming street of Park Boulevard whose four westernmost households are within Piedmont city limits.

The City Council approved an agreement Monday that allows the City of Piedmont to design and build a permanent repair for Cavendish Lane. It also calls for eventual reimbursement to Piedmont for repair costs costs incurred in repairing the Oakland-owned roadway. The City of Oakland has sued a property owner on Trestle Glen Road for work which the suit asserts was the cause of the damage to Cavendish Lane.

Until the suit is settled, Piedmont will pay for the estimated $400,000 to $600,000 for full Cavendish repairs from its general fund reserve, to be reimbursed when the lawsuit is settled.  Councilwoman Betsy Smegal Andersen said Piedmont’s stepping up to pay for the work amounts to an “interest-free loan” to Oakland.

It was only the four Piedmont homes on Cavendish that, in February 2017, were cut off when the narrow street was undermined — caused, the City of Oakland contends, by the actions of the Trestle Glen homeowner immediately to the north and down the hill. Vehicles were completely unable to access those four homes for over a month, and when the City of Oakland declined to repair the narrow street, Piedmont spent $54,000 on temporary repairs using steel plates.

Those steel plates remain in place today, and cannot support any vehicle larger or heavier than a passenger car.

Susan Zieleniewicz, whose parents Helmut and Eva have lived at the end of Cavendish Lane for 43 years, said that, while better than having to walk in to the house that first month or so before the “temporary” repairs were made, driving over plates hasn’t been optimal.

“I’m glad this is finally going to be fixed — it’s been inconvenient and we’re happy this is happening,” Susan Zieleniewicz said after Monday’s  council meeting.

Earlier, she had told the City Council that “Being part of Piedmont again is going to be wonderful.” Smegal Andersen said the residents at the Piedmont end of the street have been “stranded” since the initial physical failure.

Mayor Robert McBain looked out to Susan’s parents and said, “I don’t remember us helping you in 43 years, so I think we owe you one.”

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