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New Golf Course Idea May Be Full of Holes

November 17, 2002

Re "Buyer Vows to Trump Pebble Beach," Nov. 10: I am the person who was on the landslide at Ocean Trails Golf Club in 1999. My dog and I had to be airlifted to safety and are fortunate to be alive today. I take exception to the statement that a leaking sewer line caused the landslide that took out the 18th hole as well as a beautiful coastal bluff and tide pools. After much study and finger-pointing, it was never determined whether the sewer line was leaking prior to the slide.

Many factors were at work. In the months leading up to the landslide, the entire area was scraped clean of its existing vegetation. When the predicted El Nino rains fell, torrents of water carved deep channels on their way to the sea. After bulldozers and earthmovers had reconfigured the landscape, the 18th hole was constructed on what the environmental impact report had identified as an ancient landslide with, not surprisingly, the potential to slide. Also, an artificial lake that was built nearby was found to have a substandard liner, causing it to leak.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula has notoriously unstable geology, and I think that Donald Trump may be wise to rethink his idea of reconfiguring an existing Ocean Trails golf hole so that it is perched on the fringe of a bluff. Natural forces should be respected and worked with rather than flouted and worked against, whether one is a flamboyant developer or not.

Tony Baker

Rancho Palos Verdes

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