SANTA CLARA – City officials are offering to purchase three homes affected by the Truman Drive landslide. After purchase, the homes will be torn down to allow work to begin on stabilizing the hillside.
The hillside that is sliding is located near Truman Drive on the edge of Santa Clara Heights and has been sliding for decades. One home on Cinnamon Circle has been condemned and purchased by the city; however, several other properties are affected and more are at risk if the slide is not stopped.
All three homes the city wants to purchase are occupied by homeowners, Mayor Rick Rosenberg said.
“Two of the homes are distressed,” Rosenberg said. “All three are at very high risk.”
In a special meeting Wednesday night, the council agreed on how much to offer the owners of homes located at 1656 Cinnamon Circle, 2861 Crestview Drive and 2921 Crestview Drive.
The city offers range from $194,000 to $237,550 for the three homes, city attorney Matt Ence said, and are based on professional appraisals.
The offers were set to be delivered Thursday morning. Homeowners have 15 days to accept, reject or appeal the offers.
If the offers are accepted, the closing dates will be in January, and officials hope to start mitigation soon after.
“The geotechnical engineering is currently in process on the slide, to come up with the final recommendations for the stabilization work,” Rosenberg said. “We’d like to be able to bid the job sometime around the first of the year. We’d like to get the work going as soon as possible.”
Rosenberg said he would be relieved when he knew there was enough money in the budget for the repairs and that the closings had been taken care of.
“Right now I’m still anxious,” Rosenberg said. “I don’t have the engineering designs so I have an estimated budget cost without a design, which always scares me. And (we) don’t own the property.”
The small city has limited funds, and the FEMA grant has a cap, Rosenberg said.
“Without the FEMA grant, we can’t do it.”
City officials received approval in July for a federal grant and loan which will allow the purchase of some of the affected properties and mitigation of the hillside which will hopefully stop the slide permanently.
The total project costs are estimated at $1,562,713, Rosenberg said, including property purchase and hillside stabilization. The FEMA grant, which is 75 percent of the total, is $1,172,035. In addition, the city has secured a Community Impact Board loan commitment of $351,000. The city will contribute $20,000 in cash and $19,678 in in-kind contributions.
Many efforts have been made to stabilize the slide, which is caused by blue clay and underground water, City Manager Ed Dickie said in an earlier interview.
Large concrete shafts were installed 20-40 feet into the shale bedrock in the slide area in 1993 in an effort to stop the slide. However, the hillside moved again in 2002, displacing most of the shafts and forcing residents to vacate two homes.
Mitigation plans for the hillside include the purchase of the three homes and two empty lots. The homes will be demolished, and the area will become open space where no one can build.
To stabilize the hillside, the top will be graded and a berm will be built at the base of the hill to alleviate pressure on the slope.
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