Rocky times ahead for homes built on local beach hillsides?

The backyard of a Newport Beach home in the 1900 block of Galaxy Drive in Newport Beach has crumbled due to a landslide.
A Newport Beach home in the 1900 block of Galaxy Drive was red-tagged Friday after a landslide destroyed its backyard adjacent to Upper Newport Bay.
(Susan Hoffman)

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, March 8. We are Carol Cormaci and Vince Nguyen bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter. Together we’ve aggregated the latest local news and events for you.

Cleanup efforts and geological investigations remained underway this week after a huge portion of the hillside collapsed behind a Dover Shores home in Newport Beach on Friday, according to a story by a Daily Pilot contributing writer and photographer, Susan Hoffman, who visited the scene Sunday to learn what went down during the incident.

Hoffman learned a 911 call came in around 10:40 a.m. Friday, and the Newport Beach Fire Department was first on the scene, arriving within five minutes. Within a few hours, a city building inspector red-tagged the property at 1930 Galaxy Drive as residents gathered their belongings and vacated. Two adjoining properties are yellow-tagged out of concern for the stability of the bluff they were built on.

“A city geologist monitored over the weekend,” a Newport Beach spokesman told the reporter on Monday. “The soil is still in motion and considered not yet stable; we don’t yet know what could happen to the house.”

The homeowners most directly involved and their neighbors are understandably on edge in more ways than one this week, Hoffman learned from others in the area.

Newport Beach City Councilman Erik Weigand, a native of the seaside paradise, remembers playing at the bottom of that compromised hillside as a child.

Weigand related that a resident of the affected neighborhood had told him he’d observed changes in the landscape and had been becoming more and more concerned.

“He was pretty shaken up because he knew he was just there before everything collapsed,” Weigand told Hoffman. “He told me just a week or so prior his kids were playing down below [the bluff].”

It’s hard not to look squarely at the recent storms and put the blame for the latest crumbling hillside on the unusual amount of rainfall we’ve received on and off over the past several weeks.

After all, two days after the landslide in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach officials reported a sinkhole that swallowed up an SUV Sunday, then led to a gas pipe leak that forced the evacuation of a neighborhood.

Our Daily Pilot colleague Andrew Turner reported on that emergency. According to his story, Laguna Beach fire and police personnel were sent to the area of 10th and Sunset avenues at about 7:30 a.m. after receiving word that a substantial amount of water was rushing between homes and out onto South Coast Highway.

When authorities arrived at the scene, they discovered a Range Rover that had been parked on Sunset Avenue had fallen through a sinkhole and ruptured a gas line beneath the road.

The investigation into the cause of the sinkhole is not complete, although it was reported a water main was involved. But again, geological tests are going to have to be conducted to assess the stability of that area.

“We still have geologists in the area investigating,” Sheena Johnson, a spokeswoman for the South Coast Water District, told the reporter. “There’s been a lot of rain, a lot of saturation in that area on that hillside. We’re looking at actually what the cause was [of the water main break]. That hasn’t been determined yet.”

The same day Hoffman and Turner were reporting those two incidents in Orange County beach cities, you might have seen that the Los Angeles Times reported on a looming crisis in L.A. County in a story titled “A chunk of Rancho Palos Verdes is sliding into the sea. Can the city stop it?”

Reporter Jack Flemming took on that story and learned the root cause of the slippery slopes: “A dormant landslide complex that shaped the south side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula for hundreds of thousands of years was reactivated 67 years ago, and it’s threatening to destroy homes and infrastructure.”

Rancho Palos Verdes City Manager Ara Mihranian told the reporter, “Something catastrophic is imminent. Doing nothing is not an option.”

Flemming reports that the solution is the installation of a series of wells “to suck water out of the ground and spit it into the ocean, effectively drying up the lubricated landscape enough to stop the land from sliding.” Price tag: $25 million.

“Everyone looks forward to rain because we’re in a drought. But for a community like ours, we cringe, because we know it’s going to accelerate the landslide at some point,” Mihranian told the reporter.

And so, it would seem, there must be some nervous officials in Orange County coastal cities that are experiencing similar issues. More rain is expected Friday and, according to this story published yesterday by our L.A. Times colleague Hayley Smith, some experts believe an El Niño climate pattern could be returning later this year. This could bode for “an enhanced probability of above-normal rainfall in California, along with accompanying landslides, floods and coastal erosion, though it is not a guarantee.”

Our advice: Keep your eyes wide open when you’re frolicking below any bluffs along our coastline.


Board members during a groundbreaking ceremony at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
Board members stand for a group picture during a groundbreaking ceremony for new construction that will lead to water-saving efforts at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

— Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach has broken ground on $14-million expansion project that will enhance the center’s educational and patient treatment capabilities. The project, referred to as “The Next Wave” expansion, will also include a water reclamation system capable of recycling 90% of the water used by the facility. Once installed, the system would allow the center to save 15,000 gallons of water per day and approximately 5 million gallons of water annually.

— A group of international shipping companies tentatively agreed to pay $96.5 million to Amplify Energy Corp. to dismiss one of the last lawsuits over the oil spill off Huntington Beach in October 2021. The lawsuit, filed last year, accused the shipping companies of improperly allowing their container ships, the MSC Danit and Cosco Beijing, to drag their anchors across the sea floor near the pipeline. The suit alleged the companies should have notified authorities about the pipeline damage but did not, writes L.A. Times reporters Hannah Fry and Laura J. Nelson.

— A state court judge has ruled the city of Huntington Beach should be reimbursed for a $22.4-million loan it took out in 1988 to redevelop aging downtown parcels under a state program shuttered in 2012. More than 400 redevelopment agencies, called RDAs, were operating throughout California in 2011, when lawmakers decided to end the program to help alleviate the state’s recession crisis. Many cities were left uncompensated by the dissolution. The state will pay back the original RDA loan amount, plus 10% annual interest, amounting to nearly $25 million for the city.

— Friends of Newport Harbor has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in U.S. District Court. The complaint claims the agency has not provided details for a Newport Harbor dredging site in a timely manner. The group sought details on the construction of the confined aquatic disposal site, or CAD, at the harbor. “To date, over 90 days after the initial request, no documents have been provided,” a portion of the complaint reads. The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to disclose any information requested within 20 business days, void of extenuating circumstances.

— From 2012 to 2021, the number of deaths of homeless people in Orange County more than tripled, and accidental overdoses are a leading reason why. A report by the county’s Homeless Death Review Committee, commissioned by Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes in 2022, recorded 395 deaths in 2021, with 36% of deaths linked to fentanyl. An additional 8% were linked to overdoses involving other drugs, writes L.A Times reporter Salvador Hernandez. The number of hospitalizations also skyrocketed over the 10-year span. The number of admissions in 2021 was 5,649.

— The California state auditor advised that the Orange County Power Authority “increase the transparency of its operations” and raised concerns about some of its past dealings in a report released last Tuesday. None of OCPA’s activities appeared to have violated any laws. OCPA was organized to be a competitive alternative to Southern California Edison with the mission of encouraging development of green infrastructure in Orange County, but certain cities are exploring the possibility of leaving the program.


A body was found in the area of the rock jetty on the Newport Beach side of the Santa Ana River on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

A body was discovered near the mouth of the Santa Ana River on Thursday. Sgt. Mike Woodroof, a spokesman with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, confirmed Friday the body was found on an embankment and not submerged in the water. Woodroof added foul play did not likely play a role in the person’s death.

— A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the case against 38-year-old Charles Seton Mosby of Mission Viejo, who was charged with killing his mother, former elementary schoolteacher Marie Mosby on Sept. 9, 2021, according to City News Service. Jurors, who started deliberations Monday morning, deadlocked 11-1 on a verdict. A hearing was scheduled for Friday to consider how to proceed with a retrial.

— The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to renew a $4-million grant from the state to allow the public defender’s office to seek sentence reductions for certain people convicted of murder, despite protests from Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer. A bill signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown opened the door for petitions from hundreds of inmates serving long sentences seeking an earlier release. It has flooded Spitzer’s office with 600 petitions, resulting in significant costs to his department that won’t be covered by the grant. “I hate to speak against the grant because I understand that Mr. Schwarz could use the money to fund his ability to do this work, but I can’t rebut this workload without additional resources,” Spitzer said.

— A 23-year-old man arrested in 2020 on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter for a Huntington Beach DUI collision that killed his friend pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison. Miguel Angel Guzman could have faced 10 years of prison time if convicted on all four felony charges. Instead, he accepted a plea deal and received the reduced sentencing.

— Orange County Fire Authority firefighters on Sunday night rescued a woman who lost control of her SUV and went off a road and down a hill in Rancho Mission Viejo, according to CNS. The crash was reported at 8:30 p.m. in the area of Chiquita Canyon Drive and Los Patrones Parkway, the OCFA and the California Highway Patrol confirmed.


 Orange Coast College is offering a career launch personalized career coaching program.
Orange Coast College is offering a career launch personalized career coaching program.
(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot)

— Orange Coast College is trying to make it easier for students to get a job through networking and relationship building. The Costa Mesa community college’s Career Launch program is offered on a weekly basis throughout a four-week period and students are given workbooks that allow them to brainstorm, journal and create an action plan for executing job search goals. They meet in person to discuss revelations and next steps. OCC students interested in learning about the program can call the Career Center at (714) 432-5576, email CareerCenter@occ or go to this site.

A Newport Coast home with expansive views has been listed for close to $40 million. The 1 Shoreridge property is located inside the Pelican Crest neighborhood. Built in 2010, the two-story, 12,000-square-foot home sits on a double lot of about 34,373 square feet and faces southwest, which makes both unobstructed sunrise and sunset views possible from the back. It includes six ensuite bedrooms, seven bathrooms, four pools, a gym, game room, sauna, kitchen, living room, master suite, office, wine cellar and a four-car garage.


Chandni Sheth dances during "Holi by the Sea" at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
Chandni Sheth dances to India-themed music during the “Holi by the Sea” event held Sunday at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
(Susan Hoffman)

— Hundreds turned out to celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, at Bolsa Chica State Beach on Sunday. The “Holi by the Sea” event encouraged a freedom of expression, while raising funds to help serve underprivileged children in India and America through the nonprofit CRY America. Each attendee was given a packet of paint powder and invited to toss it into the air and at one another in a playful display of joy.

— Lauren Bailey, chief executive officer and co-founder of Upward Projects restaurant group, brings her wine concept, Postino WineCafé, to Irvine and beyond. Postino opened back in December at Irvine’s Park Place on Michelson Drive. It offers an extensive wine list and craft cocktails, as well as a variety of soups, salads, finger-food snacks and boards with options like bruschetta, charcuterie and cheese. Since opening, Bailey has made it Postino’s mission to integrate and support the community by holding fundraisers for local organizations like Children’s Hospital of Orange County Foundation and the LGBTQ Center Orange County.

— With the largest score in his poker career, Fountain Valley resident Alex Petrosian won the Los Angeles Poker Classic held March 3, according to this report at Petrosian went home $401,650 richer than he arrived at the tournament, held at the Commerce Casino. It was his first tournament win ever.


CIF State individual wrestling champions, on Tuesday at Marina High.
From left, Marina’s Destiny Marquez, Newport Harbor’s Duda Rodrigues, Fountain Valley’s TJ McDonnell, and Marina’s Saiheron Preciado-Meza and Carissa Qureshi, all CIF State individual wrestling champions, on Tuesday at Marina High.
(James Carbone)

— Marina topped Walnut 114-88 to win back-to-back girls’ team titles in the CIF State individual wrestling championships. Five local wrestlers won individual state titles. Carissa Qureshi (126 pounds), Saiheron Preciado-Meza (189) and Destiny Marquez (235) earned individual titles in their weight classes for the Vikings. Newport Harbor junior Duda Rodrigues became the Sailors’ first state champion after claiming the 150-pound crown. Meanwhile, in boys’ wrestling, TJ McDonnell became the first state champion for Fountain Valley, winning the 182-pound title on a 5-4 decision.

— The Marina girls’ soccer team faced off against Moorpark once again in a high-stakes game on Saturday. This time, the two met in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division III final where the Musketeers took an early lead over the Vikings. Marina senior Riley Crosby scored late in regulation, but Moorpark went on to win the 14-round penalty shootout to capture the regional title. “The girls just battle,” said Marina coach Heath Oberle of his team’s season. “I know, for me, and hopefully for them when they look back on it, they’ll just enjoy the journey and all the memories, on and off the field.”

— Los Angeles Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda and longtime Fullerton resident has been honored with signs on the 5 Freeway in Orange County. The stretch of the freeway where Lasorda started his trips to Dodger Stadium and exited after games is now called the “Tommy Lasorda Dodger Legend Memorial Highway.” The signs are on the northbound and southbound lanes between Lincoln Avenue and Ball Road. The former Dodgers manager has lived in Fullerton since 1958, and since his death in January 2021, the city has celebrated his birthday with consecutive street festivals in 2021 and 2022. Lasorda guided the Dodgers to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988. He was 93.

— Back in February, Frank McManus was announced as the new football coach for Santa Ana Mater Dei High, taking over for the retiring Bruce Rollinson. L.A. Times prep sports columnist Eric Sondheimer shared what the new-hire brings to a talent-laden Monarchs team that is expected to be ranked No. 1 in the region in the fall. “It’s a new era of football,” McManus told Sondheimer. Despite having no head coaching experience, the 47-year-old McManus has been part of the program for 16 years — the last seven as the team’s defensive backs coach.


A woman holds up a dragon kite she's preparing to fly.
Kite Party 19, organized by the Kite Connection, takes place this weekend in Huntington Beach. The event is free to spectators and will take place on the north and south sides of the Huntington Beach Pier.
(Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

— There’s really no better time of year to fly a kite than March, are we right? The Kite Connection is hosting Kite Party 19 in Huntington Beach this weekend, roughly from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The free event attracts performers, designers and kite enthusiasts of all ages. To participate by flying a kite, one must register ahead of time and, according to the group’s website, this year’s registration has closed. But the event is free to all spectators. The Kite Party will be held at the north and south sides of the Huntington Beach Pier, 200 Pacific Coast Hwy.

WonderCon, an annual comic book and pop culture convention, is returning to the Anaheim Convention Center from March 24 through March 26. More than 900 exhibits centering on comic books, science fiction, anime, cosplay and film culture.


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