Landslide threatens homes in two HOAs in Santa Clarita (CA)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Two homes have been yellow-tagged and several residents in two HOA-governed communities are on high alert, due to an unexplained landslide in Canyon Country, California.

Homeowners speculate that recent heavy rainfall may have triggered the earth movement, which began Monday. By Friday, homeowners of two Terri Drive homes were advised to evacuate, pending a geological investigation of structural damage and the cause of the landslide.

CBSLA reports that several other residents on Terri Drive and Trestle Drive were told to consider voluntary evacuation of their homes. The station also reports that Terri Drive homes were built in the 1980s, while The Trestles is a relatively new development, only 5 years old.

Canyon Country: Massive fissure opens up in backyards of hillside homes after recent rains

By Leo Stallworth and staff
Friday, February 22, 2019 05:29PM
The hillside backyards of several homes in Canyon Country visibly shifted in the aftermath of recent storms that drenched the Southland, prompting concern among residents.

At least two residential properties were affected in the 19700 block of Terri Drive, where a large fissure was visible in the ground behind the houses.

One residents’ home, which was yellow-tagged, had to evacuate the property. They will be in a hotel for at least 30 days, while their residence is evaluated.

Read more:

Shifting land destroys home’s backyard

Feb. 22, 2019, Brennon Dixson, The Signal, Sata Clarita Valley

When Stephanie and Luis Estrada stepped into their yard around 8 p.m. Monday night, the couple spotted cracks in a few bricks lining their home. By 7 a.m. the next morning, the couple noticed their land was sliding, bricks were falling, and walls, fences and trees were splitting with no apparent explanation.

“I wasn’t sure who to call,” resident Stephanie Estrada said. “I started with the city then the fire department, my HOA (and) the HOA of the Trestles down below us.”

The Trestles is a single-family home development that was built about five years ago near Soledad Canyon Road, Estrada said, adding there’s also a small hill sitting above the Trestles development and behind the Estrada household that possesses no vegetation and a drain that is used for the rain runoff.

Read more, additional Video:
Shifting land destroys home’s backyard

“Before photos” of The Trestles and their uphill neighbors on Terri Dr.

A 2017 Williams Homes drone video of the Trestles gives viewers a birds’ eye view of the grade change and significant slope between both communities.  Here are a few “before” screen shots captured from the video:

These photos give us a better perspective of the problem. We see a line of trees at the top of the slope, and relatively bare, unvegetated land leading down to the bottom. According to a report by KHTS radio, the landslide is occurring in the hillside between 19700 block of Terri Drive and 26800 block of Trestles Drive.

Google maps pinpoints the area close to Soledad Canyon Rd. (The largest of the three images above.)

It’s unclear who owns the hilly strip of land between Terri Drive and The Trestles. Perhaps both HOAs share part of the slope.

According to several news reports, the slope and its storm drainage system is privately owned and maintained by one or both HOAs.

A landslide trend?

The Santa Clarita reports come on the heels of similar landslides in North Strabane Township, Pennsylvania, where three homes were demolished after a catastrophic landslide in Majestic Hills subdivision.

Owners of one property are threatening a lawsuit against Majestic Hills’ developers, home builders, engineers, homeowners’ association, and Strabane Township.

Washington County officials have since updated their land grading Ordinance, to prevent dangerous earth movement in the future. However, two developers are protesting the new Ordinance, and hoping to avoid having to meet higher building code standards as they begin construction of new homes.

In all three communities, local government officials permit developers to grade slopes and add retaining walls. But they also require private HOAs to maintain sloped common areas and related storm water drainage.

The weakest link in this chain of command is an HOA board. Consider the following questions.

Are HOA leaders provided with a clear slope and storm water maintenance plan? How often are slopes, storm drainage systems, and retaining walls inspected by City Engineers? When landslides happen, can the HOA raise enough money from homeowners to repair the damage?

Insurance policies generally don’t cover landslides. And “mudflow” is covered only by flood insurance.

Today’s post is more proof that steep slopes are yet another liability for homeowners in association-governed communities.

Additional sources:

Landslide Causes Four Canyon Country Homes To Receive ‘Yellow Tags’ KHTS, Posted by: Devon Miller in Community News, Santa Clarita Latest News February 22, 2019 – 3:27 pm

Earth Giving Way In Santa Clarita Neighborhood, Multiple Homes At Risk
February 22, 2019 at 5:29 pm SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) VIDEO

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