Elderly woman relocates after hillside slips at La Jolla home

A chunk of concrete that was part of a retaining wall on Caminito Avola sits beside bushes. Photo: Dave Schwab
A chunk of concrete that was part of a retaining wall on Caminito Avola sits beside bushes. Photo: Dave Schwab

By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

A 94-year-old woman was forced to leave her home Wednesday after a mudslide in Colony Hill on Dec. 22, prompting city officials to yellow-tag the home.

The tag on the home states there are several cracks of internal walls in the dwelling and that interior doors are sticking as well. The message adds that it appears the structure is moving north due to instability in the north of the property.

A spokeswoman for the City's Development Services Department, who had an engineering geologist and a structural engineer inspect the site, said she could not comment because of ongoing litigation from erosion problems. There were settlement issues regarding the property prior to the storm.

The mudslide occurred near where a car hit a retaining wall, making it more susceptible to the mud and water flowing down the street at the height of the storm, police Lt. Jim Filley said Wednesday.

Virginia Wall, mother of homeowner Richard Wall, was asked to leave and was referred to the Red Cross who contact her son, said fire department spokesman Maurice Luque.

Robert Von Esch IV, the attorney who has represented homeowners in a lawsuit against the city involving what an allegedly faulty water main that served Colony Hill, said Richard Wall was one of the parties to the 2008 lawsuit, which was settled earlier this year.

In an e-mail Thursday, Von Esch wrote that "the cause is under investigation and it is too early to say at this point in time what the cause was."

Police and city crews spent much of the morning at the home at Dec. 22 when neighbors on Hidden Valley noticed the slippage. One neighbor, Jeanie Scott, told the Light that "this house has been moving for years," although she added that there was apparently no connection between the slippage on the hill and the house movement.

Scott and her husband Pat are members of the Colony Hill Homeowners Association and were parties to the lawsuit.

In a 2007 story in the Light, Von Esch said the water main "has leaked on numerous occasions." The original claim filed with the city stated that the fire department said the water system "was inadequte for fire protection," Von Esch said at that time. A temporary water line was installed to supply the homes.

In February, the city council approved a settlement for the litigation arising "from soil subsidence." As a result, the city was to get $790,000 from cross-defendants, of which $90,000 was to go to the homeowners association and its attorneys. In addition, an additional $30,00 was to be paid from Water Fund 70011, half of which was in exchange for the HOA allowing an easement to reroute the water main. An roads damaged ruing construction would also be resurfaced.

Other terms, included the HOA reconstructing a smaller water main for nine properties previously served by the larger main that would later be connected to the city's main.



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