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Oceanside Says Cracked Homes a Civil Issue

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A group of Oceanside residents, fearing for their safety because their 20-year-old homes in a hillside seniors development are cracking, appealed Tuesday night to the City Council for help.

City officials said the problem is a civil matter and that homeowners should go to their insurance companies or lawyers.

Phyllis Colby told the council she suspected nothing wrong when she bought her duplex in the Costa Serena development in the hills north of California 78 in 1984, but that since then, huge cracks have formed in the foundation and walls.

“I am deeply concerned for my personal safety,” she said, adding that she believes the previous owners must have known the site was unstable.

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“I feel victimized. I inherited a problem I didn’t know existed,” Colby said.

But city officials weren’t eager to get involved.

“It is a civil matter,” said City Engineer Ron Beckman, who said of the damage, “It’s not unlike buying a lemon for a car.”

Beckman said the homes, like other hillside dwellings in Oceanside, are “slowly settling” and “it’s not a life-threatening problem.”

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Homeowners, who believe that at least eight units on Buena Hills Drive are seriously damaged, complain they can’t sell or rent their property because of insurance liability and the visibility of the cracks.

They claim it’s almost pointless to repair the cracks because of continual movement that simply causes new damage, including inside walls separating from floors, doors that don’t hang properly and cabinets that fall out of alignment.

Glen Anderson of the city’s building department said he examined one home Monday and concluded there’s “no reason it can’t be lived in. I haven’t finished my evaluation, but I think that’s where we’ll end up.”

He added, “We would not prohibit anybody from inhabiting those structures.”


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