Property owner, city deny responsibility for repairs to Nevada City sinkhole |

Property owner, city deny responsibility for repairs to Nevada City sinkhole

Tarping along the banks of the Little Deer Creek sinkhole, sit tattered in the parking lot of the Stone House in Nevada City. The tarping was originally put in place by city workers after the sinkhole opened up about a year ago.
Elias Funez/ |

It’s been nearly a year since winter storms in Nevada City caused a culvert along Little Deer Creek to fail.

But the 10-foot-deep sinkhole in the Stonehouse parking lot that opened up as a result of that failure remains unrepaired.

According to Bryan McAllister, Nevada City’s engineer, the damage needs to be addressed.

“It’s a high priority,” he said.

But it’s not the city’s responsibility to pay for repairs, he said, because the incident occurred on private property.

Jonathan Rowe, who purchased the Stonehouse building in Feb. 2016, says it’s not his responsibility either.

“It’s my position that it’s the city’s responsibility,” Rowe said.


When the culvert failed in January, Nevada City sent an emergency crew out to stabilize it.

According to McAllister, a construction crew removed asphalt and concrete debris from the sinkhole and created a channel for water to flow back into the culvert.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid for the work.

But when it comes to replacing the culvert, which McAllister said is the next necessary step, public money isn’t available.

The city sought funding from a variety of state and federal agencies to help with repairs, McAllister said. But ultimately those agencies refused to offer any money because the culvert is on private property.

City money won’t pay for it either, McAllister said.

“We could help with some portions,” he said. “Once it crosses under the sidewalk or the roadway, then the city can participate. But that portion didn’t appear to be damaged.”

What’s next?

Rowe said he’s “in limbo” with the situation.

“I can’t afford to fix it myself,” he said. “And I feel like the city is putting it in my lap when it’s not necessarily my responsibility.”

With another winter upon us, McAllister said city staff will continue to monitor the site.

“I think it’s capable of handling large flows,” he said. “But we have to keep an eye on it.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email or call 530-477-4231.

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