LAGUNA BEACH : City OKs Stabilizing of Landslide Area

Hoping to avoid further property damage in an area where a landslide destroyed three homes earlier this year, the City Council has agreed to spend $250,000 for the first phase of a plan to stabilize the area for the coming winter.

City Manager Kenneth C. Frank said the city is ultimately responsible for securing sewers and storm drains in the Mystic Hills area, where three homes lurched from their foundations in January following weeks of heavy rain.

The initial "winterization program," which the council approved unanimously on Monday, will include removing debris from the area, installing a shoring system, grading the site to improve drainage and then blanketing it with plastic and sandbags to control runoff as necessary.

According to a memo to the council from Municipal Services Director Terry Brandt, the work must be done quickly to "preclude reactivation of the slide and further up-slope movement of the landslide," which could endanger public utilities and a home in the area.

While Frank maintains that the city is not required to shore up private property, he told the council that residents with homes in the landslide area will benefit from the repairs. Some residents have urged the city to stabilize the area as quickly as possible.

"Enough time has been lost already," one speaker who lives near the landslide told the council. "Winter's coming fast and phase one must be done before more homes or public property are lost."

According to Brandt's memo, even the first phase of work is not likely to be complete until at least November.

The second phase of work, which is expected to begin in the spring, will include replacing the storm drain and sewer system at the foot of the slope.

The cost of the project is estimated at $550,000. City officials are hoping the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help pay for the repairs.

In June, the council appropriated $35,000 to determine the extent of the landslide and the measures needed to stabilize and preserve public facilities in the area.

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