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‘Ground is opening up' as Rancho Palos Verdes landslides expand amid rain

Some residents of the Seaview neighborhood of Rancho Palos Verdes, a quiet community with stunning ocean views, are getting used to a new normal: Water pipes that were dug up to be place over the ground, sandbags in many corners of the area, and plastic tarps covering acres of oceanfront land.

Ground movement in the Portuguese Bend areas where the Seaview neighborhood sit is nothing new. But in the last several months, ground movement has been exacerbated. At least two homes in the community have been red-tagged amid the landslides.

“The ground is opening up,” said Mayor John Cruikshank of Rancho Palos Verdes. “The landslide complexes are about a mile wide and a wild high. It’s several hundred acres.”

As some of the fissures, which are cracks and openings in the earth, become deeper and wider, Cruikshank said they are also safety issues for neighbors.

“The fissures can be 4 to 5 feet wide and 20 to 40 feet deep,” Cruikshank explained. “Plus, they soak the water from the rain and make things worse.”

Crews have been doing damage control by filling the fissures with earth and putting plastic tarps over them, so less water will go into the ground and further worsen the landslides.  

Another safety issue is the underground water pipes.

As the recent storms are allowing the earth to move more quickly and frequently, the concern is the underground pipes could burst amid the storms and landslides.

“Cal Water, our water supplies, had to put main water lines above the ground because when they were below ground they were sheering,” Cruikshank added. “And actually they were putting more water into the ground. “

The Rancho Palos Verdes is moving to ask Governor Newsom to step in and declare a state of emergency for the city,

“Resources not just in our city but communities around us have been expanding to try to preserve what they can here and do their best to fill the fissures and roads,” Cruikshank said. “It would also allow us to move forward with bigger projects like storm drainage.”

The city council is scheduled to meet Tuesday to vote on whether to send a letter to the governor, seeking the state’s support.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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