Castellammare Lacks Adequate Drainage/Roads for Major Developments

This portion of Revello Road was wiped out during the 1969 slide and after a law suit, the City rebuilt it. There is cracking and draining issues that still need to be resolved.

“What’s going on here is astonishing,” a resident said as he gave this editor a tour of the proposed Tramonto four house development off Revello on the Castellammare section of Pacific Palisades. “The big problem is the roadway.”

Repeatedly residents have said they don’t oppose construction. What they oppose is the possible loss of entrance to their homes. In addition to active landslides the other two areas which need to be addressed are substandard city streets and the lack of water drainage.

There is one roadway in and out of that area, which means if the roadways are not bolstered, it could be disastrous to residents. It has happened before on Revello.


The Revello landslide took out an apartment building and three homes above Sunset near PCH.

The Revello slide of 1969 destroyed three homes and an apartment building and took out a portion of Revello Street.

The Clay home at 17480 Revello Drive was not destroyed in the landslide, but lost access to the street that had been maintained by the city for more than 40 years. After the slide, the City refused to restore the street and residents of the home sued the City (Clay v. City of Los Angeles).

In a Superior Court November 1971 decision, attorneys wrote “Plaintiffs have been required in going to and from their home to traverse neighboring private property on foot for a distance of 300 feet over a dangerous, unpaved slope. It has, since that date, been impossible for any motor vehicle to be driven nearer than 400 feet from plaintiffs’ home.”

An appellate court ruled that “a city accepts a dedication and proceeds to openestablish and maintain a street, persons purchasing and constructing homes on lots abutting that street reasonably expect that the street will continue to exist in a usable condition.”

The courts sided with the Clays and the City had a choice of giving them compensation or repairing the road. The City elected to repair the road, but as one resident said, “they did it as quickly and cheaply as possible.”

The Revello roadway which would access the proposed Tramonto project narrows to one-lane 12’4” in width and is at the top of the Revello landslide.

According to L.A. City Streets the Hillside Limited Standard for streets is 36’, with each of the two lanes 14 feet wide, with room for a sidewalk. The State of California requires the width of all private highways and by-roads, except bridges, shall be at least 20 feet.  The City of Los Angeles Fire code and the State of CA fire code also require a 20’ roadway width. The entire Castellammare area is in the very high fire severity zone.

“The City needs to fix the [street] problems first, before they grant approval,” residents say.

This editor watched as a Sparklett’s truck backed down the road. Currently there is no turn around where Revello dead ends at a two-foot-high cement wall, which means that oversized vehicles have to back down the road.

Trucks have trouble navigating the 12’4″ single lane Revello Street, which deadends.

Residents are incredulous that the City will allow oversized development on the unstable hillsides. “The City needs to fix the problems first, before they grant approval,” residents say.



The second major problem that also exacerbates slides is water.

Generally, all water from residential property flows into the streets and then goes to storm drains.

Castellammare does not have storm drains, so the water goes down streets and hillsides.

Much of the drainage from the streets above Revello flows onto Revello Drive, which then went over the hill to the Revello landslide.

After the “new” Revello Street was installed by the City, water pooled at the low spot. A water drainage pipe was installed along the road in the hillside.

This drainage pipe, which is overgrown with foliage is meant to capture water and prevent it from going onto the active Revello slide, which is directly below the 12’4″ road.

The system was not properly engineered or maintained and “During El Nino, Revello was flooded all winter, the water was flowing over the hill into the Revello landslide” a resident remembers.

In May of 1998, the slide reactivated, the 20’ high bulkhead at the bottom of the Revello landslide along Castellammare Dr failed, blocking the street with steel beams, wood, mud and water.

The pipe designed to prevent water from entering the landslide didn’t extend far enough to make it over the hill, and water ended up going back into the dip at the top of a Revello slide. In 1998 after the slide was reactivated, the City rigged a second black pipe next to the first one, that just goes over the top of the hill. The water from that pipe onto the street and into a large drainage hole at the end of Revello.  The drain system at the dip in Revello has not been maintained and is partially blocked today.

A length of this black pipe was added to the original pipe. It empties into the street away from the dip in the Revello street, which goes into the drain (below).

This drain is supposed to capture all the runoff from the homes above and along Revello Drive.

The City drain that is supposed to capture the water now connects to a system of above ground pipes over an easement over private property. Maybe at one time the pipe was level with the ground, but now it looks like something out of the “Mousetrap” game. The water from these pipes drain to Pacific Coast Highway.

A pipe goes from a drain to an easement on private property over Posetano Road and eventually empties onto PCH.

Residents’ frustration comes from the lack of historical knowledge in the City departments about prior developments in the same area. Castellammare is filled with empty lots of development started and never finished.

Some residents allege the City does not follow its own codes. For example, a Zoning Administrators Adjustment allows for deviations above some development standards, however not the magnitude approved here for grading and height of the homes.

In a prior case, residents went to the West Los Angeles Planning commission for a scheduled hearing after several delays. There was not a quorum and there was no time to reschedule unless the applicant agreed, which he did not do. That meant there was an automatic denial of the appeal without a hearing.

One resident frustrated with the City and its inability to follow its own codes said, our only “recourse was to sue the city in Superior Court.”


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One Response to Castellammare Lacks Adequate Drainage/Roads for Major Developments

  1. Bart Young says:

    A commissioner at the Nov 15 planning commission meeting summed it up beautifully when he said the City of Los Angeles abandoned this landside and your streets for decades. Now they have sold the land for dirt cheap to developers who propose to build these huge homes that break all the rules and laws putting your neighborhood in danger. “Have I got this right?” he confirmed. He later went on to approve the development as proposed. Sueing the City of LA is the only way to prevent these developers from ruining our neighborhood for their personal gain. I appreciate the attention Circling the News has given to this serious matter. Excellent reporting!

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