I noticed in the July 24 edition of the News-Press that Glendale accepted $1.1 million offered by its insurance company to settle the city's claims with regard to the mudslide at Gladys Drive (“City settles claims lawsuit”).
Normally having $1.1 million drop into your account would seem an occasion for celebration. Yet, that money pales in comparison to the $15.5 million the city lost in lawsuits with several homeowners who suffered severe property damage when the ground they built on slipped away during heavy rains in 2005.
Hillside property with great views tends to slide in our Southern California hills.
It seems these days that people frequently complain about government getting in the way. That is, they complain about government involvement until something terrible happens and they need someone to bail them out.
In my opinion, it is not government, but the builders and property owners (along with their insurance companies) who should take the loss, for they are the ones who chose to build on unstable ground. However, that's not the way the courts are ruling these days.
As long as deep-pocket municipalities (whose pockets are not so deep these days) are held responsible in litigation when hillsides give way, the lesson the city must draw from the Gladys Drive episode is to be ultra-cautious about allowing any more development on hillside property.
Otherwise, builders and property owners will continue to build on land of questionable stability, confident that not they, but the city, will pay when risks turn into nightmares.