At the intersection of Tramonto Drive and Coperto Drive in the Castellammare area of Pacific Palisades, the view of Santa Monica Bay extends from Catalina Island to Malibu. The panorama is spectacular. The cliff is shored up with a bulkhead, which holds the road in place.
In 1958, the Tramonto slide took out the homes on the cliff side of that street. The slide is still active.
Then, the slide took out the homes directly below Tramonto on Revello Drive and the street itself. One can still see a concrete foundation and bricks from homes that may have been along that street.
Revello is no longer a through street. It dead ends on both sides.
Now, the City has approved four large houses with pools and basements to be built on the active slide, in the area between Tramonto and Revello. The largest house proposed is 9,051-sq.-ft. with a 5,887-sq.-ft basement, a pool/spa, garage, decks and two retaining walls.
Based on the analysis provided by Demos Development, the City has concluded that the Project if done with mitigation will have no significant impacts,
Palisades residents are appealing the decision to the West Los Angeles Planning Commission at a hearing scheduled April 19, at the Felicia Mahood Multipurpose Center.
As Castellammare resident Murray Levy said, “We’re not against development, but we’re against anything that threatens the roadways and residents’ ability to evacuate.”
Levy has lived in the area for 50 years said, “Over the years I’ve had casual conversations with LA City survey crews investigating the possibility of re-connecting the three streets that were broken by the 1958 slide, Castellammare, Posetano, and Revello. They’ve told me that the land is still moving and that it’s impossible or prohibitively expensive to replace those streets.”
When this editor went to take a photo on April 15 of the proposed area for the four houses that are to be built on 11 lots (three on Tramonto and eight on Revello), it was easy to see why neighbors are concerned.
Revello is a narrow road that in some places only a single-lane. It is not a through road and there is no turnaround. That street, which was buried by a landslide, will need to be rebuilt. Currently, one cannot access the proposed building sites – there is no road.
Once the road is rebuilt, the developer is projecting that about 33,000 tons of landslide material will need to be excavated – which means trucks going up and down Tramonto and Pacific Coast Highway.
Castellammare, like many areas in Pacific Palisades, is slide-prone.
In 1958, a photo of the homes above the Tramonto slide, taken by the Los Angeles Examiner and housed at the University of Southern California, had a caption that read Roy M. Kirtland, a neighbor, prepares to shoot a picture of “unsafe: home at 17544 Tramonto Drive, Castellammare, (Pacific Palisades). He stands on a sidewalk, part of which has slipped three feet down the hillside. (Interestingly 17544 is one of three addresses with 17538 and 17550 that the developer plans to build.)
A L.A. Times 1993 story about Castellammare (“ Big Trouble in Paradise: Homes Gone : Real estate: For some, the lush life has slid out of sight, as wrecked homes inspire grief and lawsuits.”) wrote “The neighborhood, which dates to the 1920s, straddles half a dozen slides–30-foot layers of clay-like earth that are always inching downhill but get extra slippery when it’s wet. . . .Longtime residents remember the last big slide, in 1969. It prompted Los Angeles to bury pilings to bolster streets and spelled the doom of three homes plus a cliff-side house that threatened to tumble down onto Pacific Coast Highway. . . . .
“Here’s a house-by-house look at the damage on Castellammare Drive and Porto Marina Way. Castellammare Drive: 17884: Evacuated; extensive side damage; city condemnation process begun. 17885: Some settling and cracking. 17901: Already abandoned as a result of the 1983 and 1989 slides. 17908: Evacuated; severe slide damage; condemnation process begun. 17912: Evacuated; severe slide damage; condemnation process begun. Porto Marina: 17909 and 17919: Threatened by sliding from above; residents ordered to evacuate; condemnation process begun 17945: Separating from foundation; condemnation process begun; residents ordered to evacuate. Other Damage: Porto Marina Way: Broken bulkhead, broken guardrail and extensive slide damage to road in front of 17909 and 17919; a vacant lot across the street from 17919 has essentially vanished; sliding down the hill into the brush and trees above Pacific Coast Highway.”
Severe rains triggered the entire landslide zone from the bulkhead at Tramonto Drive to PCH in 2005. Overnight the entire slope dropped approximately 15 feet, buckling some of the historic concrete stairways in the neighborhood and resulting in the red and yellow tagging of several surrounding homes.
At the urging of Castellemmare residents, The Pacific Palisades Community Council sent a letter to the West L.A. Planning Commission after voting unanimously to: a) Request an EIR for this project and, b) Urge the City to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect the community and enforce all regulations that may impact at least two narrow public hillside roads (and by extension, Pacific Coast Highway) from the adverse impacts of this enormous excavation. c) For time limits on excavation to be scrupulously enforced by LADBS.
Levy said, “I fear that this project could wind up like some of the other building projects in Castellammare. Builders start with good intentions but then run into technical and/or financial problems and walk away, leaving exposed, unstabilized excavations.”
The West Los Angeles Planning Commission meeting will be held on Zoom, click here and use MEETING ID: 865 4486 3727 AND PASSCODE 497622.
Members of the public can participate in the meeting in person. The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. Or one can participate remotely to the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission by accessing the link above or call (213) 338-8477 or (669) 900-9128 and use Meeting ID No. 865 4486 3727 and then press #. Press # again when prompted for participant ID. Please use Meeting Passcode 497622.