San Clemente hillside continues to erode, 6 years after lawsuit demanding repairs from city

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Six years after a landslide in San Clemente compromised several homes, the owners who've settled a lawsuit are still waiting for repairs. The recent rains have made the situation worse. (KABC)

Six years after a landslide in San Clemente compromised several homes, the owners who've settled a lawsuit are still waiting for repairs. The recent rains have made the situation worse.

Ann Cole steps over sandbags and black tarp to get to her crumbling back patio. Her attorney tests the ground ahead of her.

"It has further slid down. The yard - it's gone," said Serge Tomassian, an attorney representing Cole and other homeowners on Via Ballena in San Clemente.

Recent heavy rains turned the ShoreCliffs Golf Course below her home into a fast-moving river, and Cole is on edge as more of the hillside drops away.

"Under the concrete patio. That soil is all gone," Cole said. "I pray all the time that the house will stand."

The 93-year-old's home is one of four that were red-tagged after a massive landslide in 2011.

Eyewitness News was there six years ago when she was told she could no longer live in her home of more than 40 years. Back then, she could still walk on her back patio, but now it's too risky.

"It is a dangerous situation here. There are still homeowners who live here besides the red-tagged homes," Tomassian said.

Cole and 10 other homeowners filed a lawsuit in 2011, alleging the city failed to maintain a drain pipe through the slide area; dumped thousands of gallons of water into the storm drain days before; and the golf course failed to maintain the part of the slope it owns, which allowed a drain pipe to be buried under soil and left the water with nowhere to go.

The homeowners reached a settlement last year of more than $10 million. Part of the deal is the defendants admit no liability. But repairs have not been made yet.

Tomassian said a court hearing is planned for Feb. 8, where he plans to again push for an emergency permit to get repairs started.

"It's only going to get worse before it gets better," Tom Ojeda said.

He lives down the street from Cole. Ojeda's home is not red-tagged, but he said cracks are getting bigger outside his residence.

Earlier this week, the contractor hired to do the repairs came out to do an inspection after the heavy rains.

"The contractors have concluded that we're having further erosion and collapse of the hillside," Tomassian said.

This week, the city had no comment.

As Cole inspected the outside of her boarded up home, she said she's not as hopeful as before that she will ever be able to return to the house that she loves.

"It's so difficult, and at my age you figure you don't have a lot of tomorrows," she said.

Related Topics:
lawsuithome repairslandslidemudslidestorm damagerainSan ClementeOrange County
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