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Willing To Take a Risk?

Remember the landslide on Soledad Mountain in 2007?  There had been at least one previous landslide in the same area, back in 1961 when they were building these houses.  This flicker has photos of both:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/88017382@N00/3842057354/in/photostream/

The residents around the 2007 landslide sued the city, but the judge denied the lawsuit:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2009/oct/02/city-not-liable-soledad-landslide/

The former owner of the house featured in today’s video was quoted in the U-T:

On nearby Desert View Drive, Joyce Clark is also constantly reminded of the slide.  Clark’s in-ground pool is cracked and empty, and a supposedly sturdy wall around it needed to be rebuilt after both were damaged in the slide.

Standing by the pool, Clark can look inside the house next door. >>>>

A gaping hole in the wall caused by the slide opens on a warped bunk bed and a twisted ceiling fan. Outside, a red sign proclaims danger. “Do Not Enter,” it reads. “Unsafe to Occupy.”

“It’s very eerie,” she said.

Clark said she had her house professionally cleaned four or five times to rid it of dirt during the city cleanup.

“It’s nice to be back,” she said. “But it’s been very costly and very stressful.”

What the city did to shore up the hillside:

What the city of San Diego is doing now to shore up the landslide area on Soledad Mountain Road in La Jolla was likened by senior engineering geologist Rob Hawk to home construction, only on a massive scale.

“We’re putting in sheer pins, large-diameter borings filled with steel and concrete, almost like large nails that are holding things together,” said Hawk, about the first phase of construction which began Monday, Oct. 29th, 26 days after a catastrophic landslide in the 5600 block of Soledad Mountain Road completely collapsed the thoroughfare, damaging several homes, disrupting utilties and forcing 111 residents to be temporarily evacuated. “We recognize that we can’t do anything to the landslide until we stabilize the adjacent area. They’re (pins) being put around the westerly side of Soledad Mountain Road surrounding the actual failed portion.

Hawk added, before large masses of earth can be moved, it’s necessary “to make sure you’ve got everything around you stabilized.” “That’s what we’re doing now,” he said. “We need to get the landslide stabilized before the winter rains. The landslide moved when it was dry. We don’t want to get it wet. It’s in a quasi-stable condition and we want to make sure no water gets into it so we can make sure that it stays stable and doesn’t cause any additional damage.”

In a letter to local residents, the city said Soledad construction work will include drilling a total of 37 holes, 42” and 48″ in diameter, that are 60 to 65 feet deep. Sheer pins will be placed approximately 8 feet on center and will be completely buried underground.

Seahaus REO

Thanks to SD_Coastal for tippng me to this beauty, a bank-owned unit in the Seahaus condominium in La Jolla’s Bird Rock.  Barratt American was the developer who has since gone bankrupt, making homeowners pursue other entities to fix the construction defects.

Kelly covered this in her article from July, 2010:

http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/housing/article_8a26ee30-7da9-11df-9cd4-001cc4c03286.html

An excerpt:

Homeowners assert that while the complex was being constructed, the beams used to frame the buildings were exposed to the winter rain and got wetter than recommended, but weren’t thoroughly examined before the building’s walls went up.

A smaller group of homeowners now filed another lawsuit last month piggybacking on the homeowners’ association’s claims, saying the developers and construction companies fraudulently concealed interior water damage from homeowners to compel them to pay top dollar for the ocean front units.

It’s not unusual for new condo owners to sue their developers for construction defects like leaky windows and electrical wiring issues. Seahaus owners make those allegations here, too. But what makes this litigation unusual is that these homeowners are talking about the safety and soundness of their homes’ skeleton.

And the questions about that safety and soundness aren’t easily answered. Finding the answers involves opening the walls of the complex.

Instead of sawn wood or steel beams, Seahaus’s skeleton is made of “parallel strand lumber” beams — long strands of wood from small trees glued together to make beams. The homeowners’ lawsuits allege that the developers knew the rainy winter of 2005 was exposing the buildings’ frames to rain, that they knew the beams could become an unglued mushy mess.

“They told me everything was going to be top-of-the-line, it was going to be nice, it was going to be great,” Alkasabi said. “But this place is full of nightmares.”

Alkasabi said he was told before he bought that the structure would be framed with steel beams, not the strand lumber. The condos would be soundproof and top-of-the-line, he said.

Alkasabi said he’s seen mushrooms grow out of stucco because of moisture inside. He refuses to walk under certain corridors. Inspectors found three colors of mold growing in his living room wall, he said.

When he complained about a construction issue in one of his units, he said, the developers quickly planted a palm tree squarely in front of his view.

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