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Land movement forces Rancho Palos Verdes to declare local emergency

The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council has declared a local emergency due to increasing land movement following landslides.

The council took the vote at its Oct. 3 meeting following increased movement in the Portuguese Bend, Abalone Cove and Klondike Canyon landslide areas. The council hopes its decision will provide ample time for staff to request state and federal assistance to address the issue. 

Rancho Palos Verdes’ Emergency Operations Center is currently operating at a “Level 3” — the lowest level of activation, the city said in a press release. No homes have been instructed to evacuate at this time. 

The local emergency declaration gives the city the authority to expedite contracts for repair work and instate measures to help keep additional land movement to a minimum. The city has not yet issued any regulations.

A state of local emergency was formerly declared in July after a landslide forced the evacuation of 17 homes, at least 12 of which were red-tagged and 10 heavily damaged as of July 19. Residents reported creaking sounds, cracks forming throughout their houses and broken pipes.

Recent land movement is believed to be attributed to heavy winter rainfall belatedly lubricating the bentonite soil, the city said.

Rancho Palos Verdes City Manager Ara Mihranian is hopeful that the city’s actions are within the public’s best interests. 

“This action strengthens the City’s access to resources to manage the land movement, especially in light of the El Niño weather pattern forecasted for this winter, and our ability to obtain possible mutual aid from county, state and federal partners,” Mihranian said in the city’s press release.

The council has also adopted an urgency ordinance that would temporarily prohibit any new construction that might advance the landslide on the south side of the city. The ordinance cannot take effect until it has been approved by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

City staff were asked to present a short-term remediation action plan within the next 60 days. 

Community members can find resources and answers to frequently asked questions at the Rancho Palos Verdes city website.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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