SANTA CLARA – Santa Clara City has finally been awarded a federal grant which will allow the city to stabilize a landslide which has been plaguing residents for decades.
City officials received word Monday that a $1.17 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been granted, Mayor Rick Rosenberg said.
“It’s good news, good news,” Rosenberg said. “We’re excited about it.”
The hillside near Truman Drive on the edge of Santa Clara Heights has been sliding for decades; the first instability was noticed by the Utah Geological Survey in 1981 and the first major landslide happened in 1992.
This is the second year in a row the city has applied for a FEMA hazard mitigation grant.
At least 26 homes have been impacted by the slide, Rosenberg said. Movement is believed to be caused by a combination of blue clay and underground water. Attempts to pinpoint the source of the water have been unsuccessful, and repeated efforts have been made to stabilize the hillside.
In 1993 large cement shafts were installed above the slide area behind affected homes on Cinnamon Circle, in an effort to stabilize the slope.
The shafts extended between 20 and 40 feet into the shale bedrock under the hill, but in 2002, the hill moved again, forcing residents to vacate two homes and displacing most of the cement shafts.
The FEMA grant will be combined with a $351,000 loan from the Community Impact Board and $40,000 in cash and in-kind contributions from the city, Rosenberg said. The FEMA pre-disaster mitigation grant requires Santa Clara to fund 25 percent of the project.
The total of $1.56 million will allow Santa Clara to purchase five properties including three homes that are affected by the slide but still occupied, Rosenberg said. Two vacant lots will also be purchased.
The homes will be torn down and the top of the hillside will be graded to remove weight from the top of the slide area. In addition, ground water drains will be installed in the unstable hillside and a buttress will be built at the base of the hill.
The work is expected to reduce the risk to adjacent homes, Rosenberg said.
Affected homeowners will be contacted by city officials with more detailed information, and meetings with homeowners and appraisers will be set up within the next few weeks, Rosenberg said.
The homes being considered for purchase are those considered to be at highest risk. If purchased, the homes would be demolished and the area would become open space.
“No one would be able to buy it, purchase or build on those lots,” City Manager Ed Dickie said in an earlier interview. “Ever.”
Hopefully, the hillside mitigation efforts will stop the slide, make property in the area safer and prevent future problems, Dicke said.
“So that’s what we hope to do, is stop this so it doesn’t affect any other property owners.”
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