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No Homes Are Threatened by Slide

Eight families that voluntarily left homes in San Juan Capistrano return as officials monitor the area.

June 08, 2005|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

Eight families that voluntarily evacuated when an old landslide area was reactivated near a San Juan Capistrano neighborhood returned to their homes Tuesday after officials declared that the relatively small amount of dirt still falling posed no danger.

Monday's slide, across the street from homes in the 28000 block of Avenida Placida, was minuscule compared with last week's slide in Laguna Beach, which caused millions in property damage.

Nevertheless, San Juan Capistrano officials rushed emergency crews to the scene about 8 p.m. Monday when the first reports of a slide were received by 911 dispatchers. Public Works Director Amy Amirani said the slide was caused by seeping water from last winter's heavy rains.

She said a geologist hired by the city warned that the hill would continue creeping down for about a week.

City crews will monitor it around the clock for the next few days, she said.

"But this doesn't mean that the homes across the street are in danger," she said. "Our geologist said the slide will not get anywhere near the homes."

Officials estimate the slide area at 400 feet wide by 400 feet high. Even if another slide of equal size occurred in the area, Amirani said it was unlikely debris would make it to the frontyards of homes facing the hill.

Amirani said small slides were common in San Juan Capistrano, where many homes were built on hills.

"It's assured that we will have some movement of dirt after every [heavy] rain," she said.

She said the city recorded 20 slides in 1998 after a particularly wet winter.

On Tuesday, a trail used by horses, joggers and cyclists above the slide was closed, and two large water tanks on higher ground behind the slide were partially drained as a precautionary measure, she said.

"We jump whenever we see something happen," said Michael Cantor, the city's emergency services coordinator.

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