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From the Archives: Slow moving Rambla Pacifico landslide

1985 Malibu landslide
Jan. 30, 1985: Don Dwiggins sits in a bathtub, all that is left of his neighbor’s Malibu home.
(Art Streiber / Los Angeles Times)

When the slow-moving Rambla Pacifico landslide cracked Don Dwiggins’ neighbor’s home’s foundation, the owner dismantled the structure, but left a bathtub.

This photo by Art Streiber appeared in the Jan. 31, 1985, Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Elaine Woo reported:

The moving land is known as the Rambla Pacifico slide because it encompasses part of Rambla Pacifico Road. It also touches Paseo Hidalgo, Deerpath Land and Rambla Orienta. Before the land began to slide, homes in the area were valued at $350,000 and up.

About a square mile in size, the slide is smaller than the Big Rock Mesa landslide a few miles to the east. But the latter has not toppled houses, although it has inflicted extensive damage. The Rambla Pacifico slide has destroyed eight homes since 1978, leaving nothing but broken foundations. According to specialists, it shows no sign of slowing, but has, in fact, picked up speed over the last 12 months.

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“The slide has accelerated very rapidly. It’s moving much faster than previously,” said Art Keene, Los Angeles County’s chief geologist. ...

The closure of Rambla Pacifico Road had a big impact on residents. The formerly quick drive to Pacific Coast Highway became a four-mile detour over narrow, winding roads. Life only got worse as the landslide took out several more homes. The limited access, according to firefighters,  contributed to about 130 homes lost during 1993 brush fires. In 2005, heavy rains took out a section of Hume Drive.

Finally, In 2011, the residents built a private access road reconnecting Rambla Pacifico Road to Pacific Coast Highway.

These two photos were published in the Jan. 31, 1985, Los Angeles Times.

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Jan. 30, 1985: Judy Miller stands at the base of the landslide on Rambla Pacifico, her street in Malibu. The original road continues at top.
Jan. 30, 1985: Judy Miller stands at the base of the landslide on Rambla Pacifico, her street in Malibu. The original road continues at top.
(Art Streiber / Los Angeles Times)


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