The already infamous Mount Soledad landslide took place at around 9am on Wednesday, October 4th, 2007.
While battalion chiefs and commanders were reportedly in route to Mt. Soledad in La Jolla to assess prior damages and determine a disaster plan for Soledad Mountain Road and Desert View Drive, the worst San Diego landslide in 36 years was already underway.
In the aftermath, rumblings emerge from the suggestion that this has been a long-standing unresolved issue since 1961. Research has unearthed precedence, with similar catastrophes occurring in the 60's and early 90's.
An attempt to develop the 5700 block of La Jolla's Mount Soledad Road in 1961 resulted in a massive landslide, originating from the grading. The developer sued the City of San Diego, alleging a dangerous condition of public property. The city settled the developer's lawsuit. However, terms of the settlement were never disclosed.
Homes were then constructed in the 5600 and 5700 blocks of Mount Soledad Road and Desert View Drive from the late 1960s through the early 1990s.
In the early 1990s, Behnam Badiee, the homeowner of 5613 Desert View Drive, sued his neighbor, Sylvan Cooper, alleging that construction of the caisson foundations for the Cooper residence caused a loss of subjacent and lateral support, damaging the Badiee residence. Sylvan Cooper's attorney Rory Wicks of Coast Law Group responded by suing the City of San Diego, alleging an active landslide existed under City-owned streets.
Geotechnical experts made numerous borings into City land and discovered that an ancient landslide plane, or clay seam, existed underneath. The plane was moving, causing land to move downhill onto the Badiee/Cooper residences. A history of rain was also found to cause these landslides to move in a more destructive manner.
Shortly before trial, the City settled, agreeing to fix the landslide and award Behnam Badiee damages. In1993, the City paid to have a repair of the landslide designed and constructed. The City installed forty (40) steel reinforced concrete piers underneath Desert View Drive, extending from the surface through the landslide plane, and anchored to the underlying bedrock. This repair is located 200 feet downhill from the October 4th Mt. Soledad landslide.
At this time, owners of the nine Mt. Soledad homes declared beyond repair, as well as the 44 others "tagged," for utility issues, are investigating whether the City of San Diego's 1993 repair of the unstable landslide could be a factor in the damage.
Questions regarding how this will impact home resale values for the area are being overheard from grocery store lines to hair salons. La Jolla residents and any potential buyers are concerned as to how other areas of Soledad Mountain will be affected by the landslide. Residents in the area have communicated the obvious need for a full-scale investigation regarding future reinforcement of these affected areas on the mountain.
With regard to confidence in real estate values for the rest of La Jolla, it is the general tone that while this particular area may suffer some scrutiny from this catastrophe, La Jolla will remain impervious to dramatic declines in value.
This raises the issue of one of the most important facets of real estate investment. Through research, diligence, and making sure to exhaust the issue of disclosure by any selling agent, homeowners will not be caught too far off guard regarding the possibility of such a crisis.
However, the apparent lack of solid ground for these affected areas has resulted in query as to whether the soil is fruitful for stable appreciation, and whether these cracks that created a swift slide downward could have been prevented.