Construction Woes Continue to Concern Neighbors: Update on Sunshine Garden Homes

South San Francisco, CA   May 3, 2016

What once was an even grade has been compromised Photo: ESC

What once was an even grade has been compromised
Photo: ESC

Neighbors continue to be perplexed by the lack of correction to the sink hole problem that hit the Ornellas family on Thanksgiving morning last November in their Sunshine Garden home at 1243 Edgewood Drive South San Francisco. 100 days later and the problem continues.


The 10 foot deep sink hole happened in the area the grandkids play daily.

The 10 foot deep sink hole happened in the area the grandkids play daily.


























That Thanksgiving morning, homeowners Mary and Adam Ornellas had been enjoying a cup of coffee on the deck going over the days plan and menu, and had only returned into their home a few minutes prior to hearing a loud thump. Running outside they realized their side yard had just dropped 10 feet along side of their retaining  wall. Immediately adjacent to the other side of the wall, construction workers had dug a trench, nearly 12 feet in some areas, which did not include any shoring that was required to prevent this type of incident. Concern about other half built retaining walls were also questioned in this transit development on the 1.7 acre site which will include 35 housing units. The parcel had previously been vacant and was part of the Cuneo farm for generations and includes underground aquifers that were reportedly capped.


The Ornellas’ have lived in their family home for 41 years and were dishearten to be forced to move out and miss hosting the holidays at their home which is their family tradition.  Alex Greenwald, the Director of Economic & Community Development for the City of South San Francisco, advised us on January 19th that the Ornellas family had moved back into their home on January 7th. However, we have learned the side yard was still red tagged and the family did not feel safe moving back in while the retaining wall had not been completed, although shoring had finally been put in place.


The side yard today at the Ornellas home.

100 days later this is the side yard of the Ornellas home


In the January 19th communication from Greenwald, the next move was for the retaining wall to be replaced at the Ornellas home, and one at Greg Young’s 1256 Edgewood property which also had structural concerns. As of this writing construction has begun on the opposite side of the project site and no retaining wall has yet been erected at the Ornellas home. The Ornellas family remains living away from their home, not knowing if they will ever feel safe again. They have retained an attorney and do not feel comfortable talking publicly except to say they no longer receive updates from the City or the developer.


City Ventures continues construction on this site while the Ornellas family waits for the retaining wall

City Ventures continues construction on this site while the Ornellas family waits for the retaining wall


This City Venture Development has had many complaints including one from City Councilwoman Liza Normandy regarding hours of operation and dirt mounds left to blow in South City winds, to which City Manager Mike Futrell addressed back in August 2015 (CLICK HERE)


This sign echoes neighbor concerns as the retaining wall eventually collapsed.

This sign echoes neighbor concerns as the retaining wall eventually collapsed.



We continue to be asked for updates on this situation by many residents in South San Francisco, many of them living through the Buri Buri Elementary School problems, and wanting to know if our City officials are doing anything about this. ‘There are too many ‘moving parts'” Frank J told us “There is no way our City can keep up with what is happening and we can see from the problems at Buri and now Sunshine. It makes you question all these major projects going in!”  “It seems all they care about is bringing in new businesses (read $$) and then stacking more and more density into our City. It’s only about the dollar with them, they’ve sold out the residents that live here!’ one neighbor exclaimed. Another wrote us “Our City officials do not have an A Team when it comes to going up against this big developers. It’s more like Bad News Bears against the SF Giants!”



100 days later and there still seems to be no resolution.

For more on this situation CLICK HERE





3 comments for “Construction Woes Continue to Concern Neighbors: Update on Sunshine Garden Homes

  1. Your Neighbor
    March 3, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Since 2015, August, the Centennial Village project was scheduled to begin with several announcements that would begin – the latest was February, 2015, but so far nothing.

    The City with a new city manager and development group act like they can handle it, but looking like they can’t,and are opening us, the tax payer to costly litigation because of sloppy handling of the various projects around town.

    The City should slow down and take care of what is before them, before starting any more new projects. No work force housing, no Oyster Point development in the swampy areas, no more more development around town until Buri Buri, is finished and the messes are fixed like the Ornellas home.

  2. Editor
    March 8, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Comments via email:Great coverage HERE ! Unfortunate results, though…

    This seems typical of a South City government which is arrogantly convinced it can manage the headaches for residents/commuters/commercial tenants in the 101/Grand Avenue/Airport Blvd area during:
    69-unit construction at Lux/Airport;
    84-Units at Grand/Cypress;
    270-unit seven-story construction at Miller/Airport;
    the long-long-promised Caltrain Station construction, with its $20-million Airport Blvd. underpass;
    the inevitable parking problems caused by adding nearly 1,000 new residents in an already-crowded neighborhood.
    All happening just down the road from the Brittania Cove and Levitz construction-bottlenecks around the Oyster Point exit. Plus, (God knows) other events that will be ongoing or introduced over the next few years.

    “Officials are hopeful” that all the buildings will magically appear overnight, every one of the new, entitled residents will use Caltrain to go to the supermarket, and the parking problem will just go away. In addition, departmental staff continue to run rough-shod over the commissions that are supposed to oversee them. They are the “experts”, right?

    Not only are our SSF city staff B-team players (or perhaps less-qualified), the top Bay Area construction contractors and crews are all working on bigger and more profitable jobs in SF. You can see the type of problems less-qualified architects, engineers, and builders have brought us – the City Ventures project!

    Now our city’s residents & taxpayers will likely see funds we really need in order to provide city services get diverted into a (undoubtedly-deserved) award to the Ornellas and their neighbors.

    Mark Johnson

  3. Editor
    March 19, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    The City of South San Francisco has released an update on construction developments including the BART Transit Village in Sunshine Gardens;

    1256 Mission Updated:

    The developer, City Ventures, began initial grading and site work in late 2015 – however the project was paused for an extended period of time due to a construction incident on November 26, 2015. The retaining wall of an adjacent house (1243 Edgewood) failed and most of the side yard collapsed. The City responded immediately, stopped construction at the site, and red-tagged the home.

    In December 2015 and early January 2016, City Ventures worked to structurally reinforce and secure the house.
    Work was completed in early January, and the homeowners were allowed to return to their house.
    The next step is for the developer to rebuild the retaining wall and restore the side yard. However, before work can continue safely on the retaining wall, it was determined that additional shoring work is needed to protect construction workers.
    This additional shoring is currently being built.
    Once it is finished, work can continue on the retaining wall.
    Plans for the retaining wall were submitted and approved, and construction on the retaining wall will start as soon as the shoring work is complete (within the next month, weather permitting).

    Throughout this process, the City’s role has been to make sure City Ventures is complying with the “Conditions of Approval” for their project and that they are carrying out the project in a safe manner. When the construction incident happened, the City acted immediately to stop all construction until the City’s safety concerns were fully addressed. Once the developer complied with all of the City’s requirements, the City was obliged to allow the project to proceed.

    The project is anticipated to be completed in early 2017.

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