Soledad Mountain Road Landslide Update

Rupert Adams, supervising geologist for the Carlsbad firm Helenschmidt Geotechnical was the man in the photo going down the hole. On a side note, I’ve always been fascinated with the prospect of sending a geologist or engineer down a large diameter borehole to log the geology and look for slip surfaces. I don’t know if any place else does it besides California. If anyone has experience with this, drop me a note, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

At least three significant hill slides have occurred in the area from 1961 to 1994, including a major failure in 1961 that destroyed seven homes under construction.

Of the 36 houses where residents were not allowed to return completely, 9 were red-tagged, and I presume the rest were yellow tagged, meaning the residents can enter the house, but may not sleep there.

According to some residents, the City was observed to be draining water pipes, presumably for repair back in mid to late July. It was immediately after this that the Mayor’s office was alerted to the potential issue and an investigation program was undertaken. The City’s claims so far are that the movement of the landslide was the cause of the broken and leaking pipes and not the other way around. Apparently the water pipeline in the area was replaced with a temporary above ground pipeline. Gas line breaks also occurred sometime in August.

Another couple whose house is now red-tagged at the edge of the slide was so concerned about the saturation of the slope that they stopped watering their landscaping back in August. But apparently their grass and plants continued to stay green, a fairly good indication of moisture conditions favorable for a landslide. (Photo by NELVIN CEPEDA / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The first lawsuit has been filed against the City of San Diego. The Clark Family, whose home was destroyed in the landslide, alleges that the City was negligent in failing to monitor and repair leaking pipes in the area of the slide. As many of you know, geologic hazards such as landslides are not covered by home owners insurance, so those who lost property in the landslide have no other recourse except to sue the City or someone to try to recoup their losses. Here’s another article on the topic of insurance etc.

In anticipation of that and to handle the immediate costs of emergency services and forensic investigation and repair of infrastructure, the City is now asking for $48 million in federal emergency relief aid. Late on Friday a restraining order was filed against the City to allow the owner’s of the damaged houses to have their own experts examine the site. It looks like this one will be going for some time. Keep checking back for more updates.