City Looks To Raze Four Homes Involved In Landslide

The city of San Diego wants to scrape away four houses that are sliding off their foundations on Soledad Mountain Drive, then remove 20,000 cubic yards of unstable dirt from the hillside that suddenly gave way Oct. 3, it was reported Saturday.

A city engineer wants to carve a temporary dirt access road into the yawning crater, then allow homeowners to bring in trucks to salvage whatever they can from their homes.

Those people will not only not be paid by the city, but they will have to bear the burden of demolition any possible further soil collapse onto downhill houses on Desert View Drive. City officials said the project is an emergency, and therefore the property owners will not be paid for their lost possessions or property.

That has angered attorneys for the homeowners, who maintain that the entire catastrophe was caused by improper city management of leaking water lines. The city says the water pipes leaked because improperly graded private property started sliding.

Courts will eventually determine who was responsible for the entire mess, which may have originated when the lots were graded for construction more than 40 years ago.

Robert Hawk, the city's chief engineering geologist, told a local newspaper that "there's basically a big pod of unstable soil perched above Desert View Drive," and that the soil could start moving again if it rains.

Should the council approve the plan, homes on the east side of the road, and the dirt underneath them, will be shoveled away starting in two weeks, and would take between four to six weeks to complete.

City crews continue to work on the west side of the street, and have installed about two thirds of the support columns designed to prevent the head of the landslide from advancing uphill, toward more houses. Once work is finished on those devices, work will begin on rebuilding Soledad Mountain Road.

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