Stability of Newport Beach bluff where landslide occurred Friday under study; 3 homes affected
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 Newport Beach spokesman John Pope, 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.
No one was injured in the incident, according to the spokesman.
“A city geologist monitored over the weekend,” Pope said Monday. “The soil is still in motion and considered not yet stable; we don’t yet know what could happen to the house.”
The landslide decimated the backyard and destroyed the patio of the home.
The bluff properties on either side, at 1924 and 1936 Galaxy Drive, were also damaged. They were given a “yellow tag” status, meaning they are safe to enter with caution but may not be occupied.
Newport Beach City Councilman Erik Weigand, who was at the scene speaking with the residents on Friday, explained that city staff was on site working with the affected residents.
“The city is supporting the homeowners during this difficult time,” Weigand said. “We are doing everything we can to help determine the stability of the hillside and assess any ongoing risk to these properties. The safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority.”
Weigand said that a resident of the affected neighborhood had told him he had 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,” said Weigand. “He told me just a week or so prior his kids were playing down below [the bluff]. I remember playing down there as a kid myself. [A landslide] is not something you think of happening, but with all the rain we’ve had, it makes sense.”
The degree of damage to the bottom of the hill will determine the involvement of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which oversees the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve.
The agency’s information officer, Tim Daly, said they have been in contact with both the homeowner whose backyard collapsed and the city of Newport Beach.
“At this point, I’m told there will be geotechnical experts at the scene to assess the situation. That will help determine what work happens to retain or rebuild the slope,” Daly said. “It’s just very early in the investigation and follow up, so we don’t have much more information [other] than some of the debris is on our property. We’ll be working with the city and Coastal Commission as we move forward.”
Daly explained that developing weather will influence the speed at which the work can be done.
The cause of the landslide remains undetermined pending geologists’ investigation of sample soils. .
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