Oprah Winfrey‘s neighbors are pissed and concerned that a boulder wall built to protect her Montecito mansion could reroute rainwater onto their properties during the next rainstorm.
A permit was issued on Feb. 1 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Jimenez Nursery for the boulder wall to be installed along San Ysidro Creek to prevent flooding and creek erosion at the billionaire’s luxurious home in California. But it is unconfirmed whether Winfrey was even aware of the permit and border wall installment, according to Noozhawk.
The permit was applied for the reconstruction of the creek bank following a rainstorm on Jan. 9 that flooded Santa Barbra, causing mudslides and resulting in the Montecito community being evacuated. The request also sought to “place boulders along creek side that have eroded and washed away.”
Winfrey shared a video of the damage done to her home during the floods of 2018. She paid $28.85 million for the home back in 2015 — as an expansion of the 42-acre residence she bought in 2001 for $50 million.
Winfrey’s neighbor, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, also shared a video of the flooding in a creek near her home in Montecito.
Another Twitter video from last January shows cars engulfed by the flooding near the Santa Barabara suburb. A similar rainstorm in 2018 in the area resulted in the deaths of 23 people.
Fans shared their mixed reactions to the news about Oprah’s estate on social media, some expressed concern and some asked real questions.
“Oprah building a wall????? Blasphemy.”
“Oprah wants open boarders, but building a wall around her home? What happen to open boarders @Oprah?”
Property owners are required to notify the Department of Fish & Wildlife within 14 days of starting emergency repairs in writing, which was not the case with the new boulder wall installed near Winfrey’s home. Senior environmental scientist for the Department of Fish & Wildlife Steve Gibson says that his agency is getting more details from the company that installed the boulder wall to make sure it is up to code.
“We are seeking information of how it was constructed,” said Gibson. “We don’t know if it was dug and trenched in with larger rocks that we would like to see with certain banks. The property manager is working with us to comply with our Fish and Game Code requirements for this new wall. We are going to review what he has given us.”
The executive director of the Montecito Association, Sharon Byrne, also chimed in and said creek canals shouldn’t be altered.
“The main concern is, are you creating a higher velocity situation to someone else’s property? You can’t alter creek canals and not expect there to be results,” said Byrne. “Don’t change the creeks. They are going to shift and move on their own.”
“A lot of people are scared about the threat of floods after the 2018 debris flows,” added Gibson. “I feel for them. They are trying to do their best.”
One hundred homes were destroyed in the floods that year in the area.