MONTEBELLO – To Yolanda and Leo Gonzalez, several inches of water flooding the ground floor of their north Montebello home was only the latest in eight years of expensive plumbing problems related to destructive tree roots. And they are not alone. The roots from trees planted by the city have grown through the underground sewer pipes of many homes along the maze of streets in Gonzalez’s small neighborhood north of the Pomona (60) Freeway. Numerous residents in the area have experienced toilets that don’t fully flush and water flooding back up through sink and bathtub pipes. “We had so much water it had waves – I thought I was living in New Orleans,” Gonzalez said. “Water was coming from my bathroom, flooding my whole floor and ruining the wood floor of my bedroom. It was smelling bad, too.” Gonzalez said he called four plumbers before finding one who had the equipment needed to cut through the tough roots inside the pipes. “Sometimes (the plumbers) come and fix it and we have the same problem later in the day after the plumber leaves,” Gonzalez said. Over the past five years, Gonzalez said he called the city to complain numerous times but officials told him it was his responsibility to fix. City Manager Richard Torres said after the city’s attempts to pass a utility tax failed in 2004 (Measure A), officials were forced to cut a service which previously helped pay to clean pipes clogged by a city tree. Now, if residents show they have experienced three blockages in a six-month period, the city will remove the problem tree, but will not pay for repairs to pipes, he said. “Our service was unusual, so it was one of the first things cut after the utility tax failed,” Torres said. “The bill was getting pretty hefty at around $100,000 a year. Without the income to support it, we just couldn’t pay for it.” Overflowing toilets and sink pipes have plagued the home of Bertha Rodriquez, 44, ever since she moved into the neighborhood two years ago. “I had problems within six months of moving in,” Rodgriquez said. “I’ve had to pay to have it fixed three times. Water comes back up the toilet and sink, and when I wash clothes, it comes back up the toilet. We had it snaked and they pulled out roots every time.” Down the street at Manuel Gonzales’s house, water has flooded the floors repeatedly, prompting him to call the city in an attempt to get help with the problem. Leo Gonzalez said the problem is so substantial that he’ll base his vote in the next council race on the issue. “(Councilman Bill) Molinari came to my house when he was running for office and said he’d send someone the next week to fix it,” Gonzalez said. “I voted for him, but nothing was ever done.” Molinari said he had addressed the problem at a council meeting earlier in the year, but the change in policy left him little choice. “I did request for the city attorney to do a full inventory of the problem and to establish a priority list of repairs,” Molinari said. “We are looking for supplementary funding to address the problems. It’s affected some whole streets. But some programs had to be cut because we had no choice.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!