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Residents Ask Simi to Fund Soil Stability Tests : Safety: About 250 homeowners, citing earthquake concerns, request that the city pay for a geological survey.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Simi Valley homeowners, worried that shifting ground beneath their houses will make their neighborhoods particularly unsafe during an earthquake, have asked the city to fund a study of soil stability in the city’s east end.

More than 300 residents packed a meeting at the offices of the Simi Valley-Moorpark Assn. of Realtors Tuesday night to express their concerns. About 250 homeowners filled out forms requesting that the city pay for the geological survey.

Resident C. Jill Clark, who led the meeting, said she would bring the group’s requests to the City Council at its Monday meeting.

Clark, a realtor whose home on Sabina Circle was severely damaged in the Jan. 17 earthquake, charged during a two-hour speech that the city is jeopardizing the lives of its residents by allowing reconstruction in areas where the ground shifted and cracked during the quake.

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“People’s lives and property are on the line,” Clark said. “We deserve a better response from the city.”

But Mayor Greg Stratton on Wednesday said the city would not be willing to fund such a study.

“The city is not responsible for personal property loss from the earthquake,” Stratton said. “It would be like going in and using taxpayer dollars to have people’s chimneys repaired.”

The City Council on Monday agreed to ask the state’s Division of Mines and Geology to conduct a study of the soil under public roads in two quake-damaged strips surrounding the Arroyo Simi, from Katherine to Stow streets and from Yosemite Avenue to Kuehner Drive.

But Clark said she was not satisfied with that response and is demanding that the city pay for an extensive study of a large area on the eastern end of the city, south of Los Angeles Avenue and east of Stearns Street.

“We want a study of the entire area, including the soil under our homes,” Clark said. “We deserve to put our lives back together and without such a study this will not be possible.”

Residents who attended the Tuesday night meeting agreed.

“The city should tell us if the soil is any good,” resident Dolores Pacheco said. “I want to know what’s going on.”

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Resident Karen Menge concurred: “We need to know if it’s worth it to repair your home, abandon it, or what.”

Councilwoman Sandi Webb, who attended the forum, suggested that homeowners hire a contractor to work with state geologists to study the entire area.

“Instead of fighting each other, we should be working together,” Webb said.

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Clark also accused the city of delaying for more than two weeks the release of a Feb. 7 report from state geologists who toured the damaged areas.

Senior City Planner Michael Kuhn said the report had to be examined by several city departments before it could be released.

“We have an elaborate review process here and we wanted to make sure the report was checked for accuracy,” Kuhn said. “We went through the normal review process.”

Kuhn also said the two-page report merely reaffirmed information the city had already provided its residents.

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The report, which was released Friday, said ground ruptures at the east end of the city were caused by liquefaction and ground shaking, that residents should wait to repair cracked foundations because more settling may be caused by aftershocks and rain, and residents planning to reconstruct their homes should consider hiring soil or structural engineers.

Citywide, quake damage is estimated at nearly $350 million, much of that to residences and businesses on the city’s east end.

Kuhn said requests from homeowners who want to rebuild are considered on an individual basis. Homeowners must apply to the city for reconstruction permits.

“If they need a soil study, we will not allow them to rebuild until they have one done,” Kuhn said.

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Stratton said he received calls on Wednesday from several homeowners who were concerned that Clark’s claims would devalue their homes.

“She is running around telling everybody that this massive area is slipping away,” Stratton said. “She’s putting a cloud over a lot of property.”


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