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A Look Back at People and Events in the News : Another Slide Plan Tries to Make the Grade

September 14, 1986

For 30 years, the earth has been slowly moving without any human help. Now, officials in Rancho Palos Verdes are about to take a lesson from the landslide, moving 500,000 cubic yards of dirt--enough to fill 40,000 trucks--in an effort to stop the land movement. Since 1956 the slide has destroyed more than 130 homes in Portuguese Bend and blanketed a large swath of land with ripples of undulating earth.

Charles Abbott, Rancho Palos Verdes public works consultant and the man in charge of the two-year slide project, said bidding for the $500,000 grading and canyon drainage job will close Oct. 3 and a contract will be awarded four days later. "We want them to start working in a week," he said, adding that the earth moving will be completed in mid-December.

Dubbed an experiment by the city--albeit one endorsed by a panel of consulting geologists--the massive grading in the eastern portion of the slide area is designed to take pressure off the subsurface slide plane, where the earth is moving, and to create a stabilizing mass below.

"We hope to stop it altogether," Abbott said. But failing that, he said, "we would have achieved some success if we just cut the rate of movement in half. Now, it's moving about an inch a day."

In addition to grading, the first phase of the $2-million, state-funded slide project includes installation of drainage systems in Paintbrush and Portuguese canyons.

Abbott said all of this work will be evaluated before the city moves on to the second phase next year, which would include relocation of Palos Verdes Drive South to its original right of way. Over the years, portions of the road have slid several hundred feet southward.

Abbott said this new work will not be done unless the first phase shows "some results."

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