Tramonto Slide: City May Be Forced into Action by Caltrans

Caltrans has said it cannot remove the dirt from the toe of the historic Tramonto Landslide in the northbound lane of Pacific Coast Highway, near Porto Marina, until the City takes action.

The City of Los Angeles and the developer who owns the property need to repair the landslide’s origin at the top of the hill. The unstable land is located on the most western land of Pacific Palisades, with incredible views of the Santa Monica Bay. The slide continues to move towards the Pacific Ocean.

In February, dirt from the slide onto a lane of the northbound PCH, caused it to close, resulting in bumper-to-bumper traffic as people daily drive to Topanga, Malibu or the San Fernando Valley.

Pacific Palisades Community Council will hold a hearing on the Tramonto slide at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 20, click here.

At that meeting, the developer, the Castellammare Homeowners Association and area representative, Murray Levy, will speak. If PPCC takes a position, an official letter will be sent to the City Planning and Land Use Committee Meeting (PLUM) for its meeting the following day, May 21 at City Hall, Room 340.

But in a May 16 email, Councilmember Traci Park wrote, “”We have decided to continue the PLUM hearing to a later date. This will allow us to conduct further internal research with our City departments and engage in discussions with the community members and the developer. Our goal is to explore potential common ground in addressing the concerns raised in the CEQA Appeal. At this time, our office is still in the process of gathering information and has not yet taken a stance on the appeal.”

Over the years, Caltrans has scraped the “toe,” the dirt from the landslide off Pacific Coast Highway, to keep both northbound lanes open.

But this year, after a lane was closed in February, Caltrans public information officer Marc Bischoff wrote that Caltrans has waited for weeks for this most recent slide to dry out, but unlike the past, when the dirt from the slide was removed, that agency’s  “Geotechnical Division has determined the unstable nature of the slide prevents Caltrans from removing the debris from the right lane of the highway near the toe of the slide and that repairs still need to start from the top of the slide, which is outside of our jurisdiction and right of way.”

Bischoff said, “This most recent [Tramonto] slide  continues to encroach onto Caltrans right of way.

“A joint study was done in 2010 by Caltrans and the City of Los Angeles,” Bischoff said. “The study documented the history of the slide and recommended that long-term repairs start from the top of the slide” (The cost then to repair it was listed at $25 million.)

L.A. City Planning had approved the building of four large homes on the landslide by a developer in November, against opposition from the community which had requested an Environmental Impact Review (EIR).

Bart Young, the CEO of Falkenberg/Gilliam & Associates wrote to City Planning, on March 22 “You contend that building a new development on top of an active landslide will mitigate the Tramonto landslide situation.

“You said in December that this is done all the time in Los Angeles. Yet nothing I have found will support this theory that building homes on an active landslide will prevent future slides. Just the opposite.

“Please provide a list of locations where homes have been effective in stopping active landslides.”

No list was provided.

Levy, expressing his individual opinion, wrote to PLUM, “This development should not go forward, given the risks to our homes and the road used by thousands of people. At the very least you should require a complete EIR so the risks can be impartially evaluated.”

Street surrounding the Tramonto landslide have started cracking after  above-average rainfall.

In 1958, the landslide caused parts of three streets to be destroyed: Castellammare, Posetano and Tramonto. Then it made Los Angeles News as the Examiner wrote “Posetano Road, has slipped about nine feet in less than three months.”

Homes also tumbled down and the area has largely remained vacant from construction.

The 2010 study included geologic mapping, borings, downhole geophysics and instrumentation that included monitoring the slide movement specifically in that area. The report showed a deep-bedrock failure plane between Posetano and Tramonto.

In that report, it was stated “avoid large-scale grading, use drainage for basic stability and use structural support, which mean excavating to bedrock and deeper with shotcrete and installing hydraugers.” Then the report suggested using solid reinforced concrete to the elevation of the hydraugers.

If a resident would like to submit a statement for the Planning and Land use Committee (PLUM), visit: www.lacouncilfile.com, then enter Council file No. 24-0339

 

 

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