SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - One of San Diego's hottest restaurant groups is suing the City of San Diego, in part, for negligence.
The owner of Little Italy’s The Crack Shack and Juniper & Ivy gave 10 News an exclusive interview regarding allegations that the city failed to remedy issues which led to last summer’s massive water main break that flooded much of the area.
“It seems the city is using a ‘whack-a-mole’ approach,” says restaurant owner Michael Rosen when asked about the city’s way of addressing underground piping issues.
Rosen’s Juniper Hospitality restaurant group in suing the city for negligence, negligent interference with economic advantage and prospective economic advantage, and inverse condemnation.
According to the recently filed lawsuit, before the July water main break, “…the defendants were working within the area and had left temporary water pipes above ground, which were being run over by hundreds of cars a day, for approximately six months with no further attempt to repair or remove…The Defendants issued a ‘quick fix’ to the problem in lieu of fixing the unstable water main which resulted in the massive rupture that occurred.”
“This is what happens when you ignore a problem for so many months,” he tells 10 News. Rosen claims more than 400 reservations had to be canceled. “We likely lost 30 to 40 thousand dollars in revenue for the day and it was a very busy day,” he adds.
“It’s just mind-boggling,” says Adam Babin of Power Keg Athletics. Babin’s CrossFit studio was destroyed beyond repair. He believes he lost more than $100,000 in property, alone. “Hands down, this was the toughest and most mentally and emotionally [difficult] situations I've ever had to deal with in my life,” he adds.
“It definitely hurt my business for sure,” says Rebecca Hyde-Edwards of Hyde Edwards Salon and Spa. Hyde-Edwards, Babin and Rosen say they have yet to receive adequate responses from the city after submitting their damage claims.
"This is a destination area and [the city] should look out for all the businesses that make it what it is,” adds Hyde-Edwards.
A City of San Diego spokesperson tells 10News the city has received 28 claims and paid out $1.5 million to date. Only 3 of the 28 claims have been resolved. It reports that claimants have not submitted all of the supporting documentation, so not all claims have been paid. Timeframes for payments are reportedly done on a case by case basis and vary depending upon when all the supporting documentation is received and evaluated by the City.
The city’s aging water system infrastructure has wreaked havoc. More than $320 million have been spent in the last 5 years to repair and replace more than 100 miles of piping.
Rosen tells 10News he’d be happy to drop his lawsuit if the city had a comprehensive plan to fix Little Italy’s crumbling piping. “It’s our expectation and justifiable fear that we'll have to close many days in the future unless this is really addressed,” he says of his restaurants.
A city spokesperson reports the broken section of pipe in Little Italy was immediately replaced after the flooding. The city’s 0.95 mile pipeline replacement project in that area was reportedly completed last summer. A spokesperson for the city says there are no additional plans for pipeline repairs or replacement for that immediate area.
The city will not respond to the lawsuit. It reports it doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Visit Group Job 954 for a closer look at the project being referenced in this story.