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NEWPORT BEACH : Assessment District Proposed for Bluffs

March 30, 1993|BOB ELSTON

City officials may help residents create an assessment district to assist in repairs to property that has been eaten away by a recent series of landslides along the bluffs surrounding Upper Newport Bay.

Unusually heavy rainstorms in January and February triggered a dozen or more landslides on the bluffs that separate the Dover Shores Community homes from the bay. Geologists have told residents that it is just a matter of time before there are more slides.

Some residents have begun emergency repair work, including building a retaining wall to hold dirt in place. Others have covered slide areas with tarpaulin in order to stave off further erosion.

Completing the wall could cost $200,000, according to city officials.

City Geologist Rick Higley and City Building Director Ray Schuller plan to meet with Dover Shores residents to discuss establishing an assessment district to pay for slope stabilization.

If an assessment district is created, it could secure a bank loan to cover the cost of repairs, allowing residents to finance preventive measures now and pay them off later. The loan would be guaranteed by the city but paid off by homeowners who are members of the district.

"We want an assessment district to be more preventive and for ongoing maintenance of the bluff," Schuller said. "That is what we are shooting at instead of losing 10 foot (of bluff) there and five foot there and pretty soon everybody will affected."

But it is up to the homeowners to decide if they want an assessment district.

"By taking some remedial steps now, you can prevent damage," said Seth Oberg, president of the homeowners association. "From that standpoint homeowners may be interested, but I don't have a . . . feel for" how many will participate.

Oberg said he will be talking with city officials this week and will schedule a meeting of homeowners.

Though no homes are teetering on the edge, several homeowners situated on the north side of the bay have had large chunks of dirt from their back yards disappear down the 80-foot bluff after the rains.

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