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Final weddings held at Wayfarers Chapel ahead of its indefinite closure

The iconic Wayfarers Chapel held its final two weddings on Sunday at the beloved Ranchos Palos Verdes chapel after a geologist found land movement in the area, making it unsafe.

The hillside wedding hot spot will be closed indefinitely due to shifting ground in the immediate area. Images and videos from the chapel showed dangerous cracks on a nearby road and pathway on the property.

Announcement of the indefinite closure comes after a February storm delivered record rainfall to Southern California – and another storm is taking aim at the region.

“The recent rains and even I’m told the rains from last winter have totally saturated very deep parts of the earth,” said Dan Burchett, executive director of the Wayfarers Chapel. “We have been able to measure over five inches of movement in one 30-day period between the end of November and the end of December.”

At their Tuesday meeting, the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council will consider asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency that could help speed up efforts to guard against further land movement. The city might also seek federal funds.

In the meantime, Rancho Palos Verdes and other vulnerable areas are preparing for an incoming storm that is slated to bring more rain to SoCal.

A wedding — one of the final ones at this location — is held at the Wayfarers Chapel on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024.

“If there’s another rain coming, covering slopes with tarps and this type of stuff, it’s not attractive, but it works,” said Nate Onderdonk, a geologist and professor at California State University Long Beach. “Anything you can do to keep the water out of the slope.”

The iconic open-space chapel was one of 16 new National Historic Landmarks that were inducted in December of 2023.

Since its inauguration, the Wayfarer Chapel has hosted hundreds of weddings and events.

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