Santa Cruz Mountains home on the edge of Kings Creek after storm-induced erosion

BOULDER CREEK, Calif. (KGO) — After months of storm-induced erosion, the home of a Boulder Creek couple now stands on the edge above King’s Creek.

John Liotti said he started noticing severe erosion in their garden following the January storms. Their garden overlooks King’s Creek. During last Tuesday’s storm, the creek swelled so much that it collapsed their retaining wall.

“The problem for us isn’t so much the water runoff, it’s the creek. So the creek has about doubled in size and what it’s done, it’s destroyed the bank behind our wall retaining wall and he just removed the entire retaining wall in the back of the house,” Liotti said.

Liotti said the erosion came from two fronts, at the front and back of the retaining wall after months of heavy rain.

“And when I say retaining wall I’m not talking about a 2×4 wall, we’re talking about what’s called a gabion basket which is a 4ft square by 10ft basket filled with concrete rocks and stones – so I mean it’s thousands of pounds,” Liotti said.

Liotti said that was the worst-case scenario.

“I suspect they’ll label it red, but we’ll see what happens,” Liotti said.

They contacted the county, a soil engineer and a contractor – every day, even weeks, to get their expert opinion.

“So the ground engineer I spoke to said he had two weeks off before he could even go through it because he was so inundated with families struggling with the same situation,” said said Liotti.

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Liotti, along with his wife and sister, decided to rent an Airbnb in San Jose because they didn’t know what Tuesday’s storm was going to bring.

As for repair costs, Liotti said their home and flood insurance would not cover storm damage.

“Both policies specifically exclude land movement. And the flood policy specifically goes into detail saying any movement based on water or rising rivers is excluded,” Liotti said.

After five years at Boulder Creek, Liotti said he was done with the mountains.

“It is likely that we will have to leave the house and we are unable to pay both the rent and the mortgage. So we have some tough decisions to make here about what we’re going to do. Liotti said.

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Liottis created a GoFundMe to help with the uncertainty of repair or moving costs.

“You know, my wife and I both work in nonprofits. She works with chronically homeless people to help people move into permanent housing, so it’s just kind of ironic that we have both have done housing work and other things over the years and that we are here. But you know we have health, we are blessed,” Liotti said.

East Palo Alto-based nonprofit Live in Peace set up an emergency fund account to help the Liottis during this time.

They strive to stay positive and handle it with a sense of humor.

“If a tree fell on our house, we would have been fine because the insurance would pay for it. I was laughing, I was telling my neighbor it’s like – let’s just pray for a redwood tree to fall on the house that might get it fixed for us,” laughed Liotti.

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