Rancho Palos Verdes homeowners express concern as damaging land movement continues

Thursday, January 25, 2024
Rancho Palos Verdes homeowners express concern amid land movement
"We'll rebuild from this obviously," one Rancho Palos Verdes resident said. "Everybody will rebuild from this, but we do need to make it stop moving."

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (KABC) -- Land movement in Rancho Palos Verdes has been a concern for decades, but now homeowners are concerned that the rate of the movement might be accelerating.

"We'll rebuild from this obviously," said Sheri Hastings, who has been documenting the damage to her property. "Everybody will rebuild from this, but we do need to make it stop moving."

Hastings lives in the bluffs above Abalone Canyon, where, within the last few weeks, massive cracks have started to form on walls and on the ground.

"I saw a small crack and over the week it expanded to about two inches and that was early January and it's what it is here in late January," said Hastings.

The land movement broke her water main, cracked concrete walls and created a fissure in the ground underneath one of her horse stables. Some scientists believe heavy rains since last winter have saturated the ground and accelerated the slide.

Data shows the rate of landslide movement is picking up, now moving an average of one to three feet per year.

"The rate of movement changed from hundredths of an inch per year," said Gordon Leon, chairman of the Abalone Cove Landslide Abatement District. "To now it's over two feet in places in the neighborhood and 15 to 20 feet down at the seashore."

Gordon says there is a way to slow the slide with dewatering wells that can pump water out from underground

"We operate 16 dewatering wells that pump out roughly 130,000 gallons per day of groundwater that gets basically piped directly to the ocean," said Leon.

Hastings is asking the city to build more dewatering wells to stop the underground landslide.

"I believe everyone is concerned," said Hastings. "But we're also hopeful that if we get those wells in place we have a chance of stopping the movement and saving our homes and preventing much more damage."

In August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a $23-million federal aid package to the residents of Abalone Cove. Leon says that's only a down payment for what they'll need to completely stop the slide.