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Cause of San Clemente landslide still unknown

January 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Geologists have yet to determine the exact cause of a massive landslide in San Clemente that created a dangerous situation for residents.A total of six homes on the 200 block of Via Bellena are threatened.

Four of the homes have been red-tagged as they are teetering on the edge of a deep bluff. A red-tag designation means the property is not suitable for habitation.

The hillside directly behind the homes gave way about 6 p.m. Thursday night. It wasn't until Friday morning that residents were able to see the full extent of the damage.

The neighborhood, which is above the Shorecliffs Golf Course, was built in the 1960s. Several feet of dirt and shrubs that was once a part of the hillside tumbled down and piled up at one of the holes on the golf course.

Residents who were forced to leave do not know if their homes will be deemed livable in the near future or condemned.

"They have no way of telling what the integrity of the land is underneath right now, but yeah it's pretty scary," said San Clemente resident Kelly Grush.

Friday, homeowners were allowed inside their homes to pack up their belongings, but they were not allowed to stay overnight.

Last month's relentless rains may not be the only cause of the landslide.

Some residents are wondering if an exposed drainage pipe contributed to the landslide. City engineers and geologists planned further studies on the failed slope to determine the exact cause.