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Caltrans Offers to Buy Homes in Slide Area

April 18, 1998

ANAHEIM HILLS — Caltrans took the unusual step Friday of offering to buy outright or pay for repairs to homes damaged by sliding earth in a neighborhood where a large fissure threatens several hilltop properties, a Caltrans official said.

The state agency alerted residents of seven ridge-top homes along East Maple Tree Drive on Thursday that their properties were in jeopardy and advised them to leave the neighborhood, where houses are valued at $300,000 to $400,000.

Caltrans has been working in the area since 1996 and owns the hillside below the ridge. This February, the agency started a $780,000 slope stabilization project on a section of hillside near the intersection of the Costa Mesa and Riverside freeways, just below the problem bluff.

A Caltrans official characterized the area as a "historical" slide zone dating back to 1971. The heavy rainstorms this year have compounded the problem, he said.

Word of the agency's decision late Friday caught residents by surprise.

"This is great news! Omigosh! I sure hope everything works out. It's a relief to know this," said Patrick Patterson, 37, whose house is one of the seven threatened.

The night before, Patterson had packed his family into the car and moved them to a relative's house. He returned to keep watch in the house amid sounds of doorways and hardwood floors creaking.

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