City tears down homes in slide area, work on hillside set to begin

Four homes in Santa Clara are torn down in preparation for a city project to stabilize a hillside which has been sliding for decades and has affected 26 homes, Santa Clara, Utah, June 13, 2017 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

SANTA CLARA – Several homes in Santa Clara are being torn down in preparation for work to stabilize a hillside that has been slipping for decades.

Four homes in Santa Clara are torn down in preparation for a city project to stabilize a hillside, Santa Clara, Utah, June 13, 2017 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

Two homes on Crestview Drive and one on Cinnamon Circle were purchased by the city in the past three months.

A second home on Cinnamon Circle has been owned by the city for a decade or more.

Two vacant lots have also been purchased; city workers are in the final stages of tearing down the houses.

The demolitions will make way for a project that is expected to stabilize the hill and prevent damage to more homes.

“We’re hoping,” Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg said. “No guarantees with a landslide, but we’re hoping. At least it’s going to increase the factor of safety for the remaining homes.”

The slide, located near Truman Drive on the southern edge of Santa Clara Heights, is believed to be caused by several factors, Rosenberg said.

“It’s a combination of the steep slope and the ground water that gets introduced into the soil, and then gravity does its work.”

Attempts to pinpoint the source of the water have been unsuccessful and repeated efforts have been made to stabilize the hillside. At least 26 homes have been impacted by the slide, Rosenberg said previously.

Four homes in Santa Clara are torn down in preparation for a city project to stabilize a hillside which has been sliding for decades and has affected 26 homes, Santa Clara, Utah, June 13, 2017 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

The stabilization effort will include grading the top of the hillside to remove weight from the top of the slide area, installing ground water drains and building an earthen buttress at the base of the slide.


Read more: City offers to purchase 3 homes affected by landslide


Behind homes on Cinnamon Circle, the hillside has sloughed away and created a nearly vertical drop-off.

“We’re going to take that vertical scar that was there by the Hafen home, and flatten it out … and then use that material to build a buttress at the bottom,” Rosenberg said.

After the design work has been completed, the earthworks portion of the project will be put out for bid. Rosenberg hopes work will begin by the end of August or the first of September.

Five boreholes have already been drilled in the hillside as part of a geotechnical engineering study. The city council is expected to authorize funding for three more holes to help determine the best way to build the buttress at a regular council meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m.

In this file photo, homes on Cinnamon Circle are seen from the base of the slide area. Four homes in Santa Clara are torn down in preparation for a city project to stabilize a hillside which has been sliding for decades and has affected 26 homes, Santa Clara, Utah, March 5, 2017 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

“There are some sandstone layers in there that have a big impact on where you put that buttress for it to help stabilize the slide,” Rosenberg said. Sandstone layers are intermixed with mudstone and clay layers.

“The sandstone layers hold the water and provide a little bit of stability, but you’ve got to know where they’re at in order to actually design your drains and your buttress down at the bottom.”

The total cost of the project is estimated at $1,562,713, including the property purchase and hillside stabilization.

A FEMA grant will cover 75 percent of the cost. It is hoped that a $351,000 Community Impact Board loan and the city’s contribution of $20,000 in cash and another nearly $20,000 of in-kind contributions will cover the balance of the project.

Read more: Santa Clara wins FEMA grant for blue clay slide

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • mmsandie June 14, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Everyone wants a home with a view.. Why dudn,t they do studies before they built homes,, blue clay in a lot if Santa clara.. I know contractors who build on blue clay and don,t tell customers til it’s too late

  • Caveat_Emptor June 14, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    It is encouraging to see this mess start to be addressed.
    This is just one of many examples of municipalities approving subdivisions, over the years, without appropriate geotech assessment beforehand.
    The Wasatch Front is riddled with soil stability problems, and in most cases the homeowners are stuck with the problem, and their homeowner’s insurance does not cover this risk.
    Washington County has plenty of examples of problem areas for soil instability, and prospective homeowners are responsible to perform their own due diligence for existing construction. I believe it is safe to say that anything built prior to 2005 is suspect, since the building permit process ignored soil stability validation, prior to issuance.

  • comments June 14, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Some of these homeowners got extremely lucky that the gov’t was willing to step in and give them a handsome chunk of cash for what were essentially worthless pieces of property. It’s pure socialism and in the case I do think it’s a bit overly generous. Everyone who lives up on that hill and has been impacted by this really does need to step in and pay their share. Without all that cold cash the feds chipped in I bet not a thing would be done. I wonder how many folks on that hill that are going to benefit from this substantial FEMA grant are wingnuts that are sitting up there railing on about “librul socialisms”, obama, etc etc. Talk about biting the hand that feeds, lol 😉

  • dogmatic June 14, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    It’s simple, you buy a building permit and with this permit you get services like engineering and inspection, the city engineer approves the plans and the building inspector approvals the construction and your covered….no worries right?

    • Mike P. June 15, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Yeah, Dogmatic. Your right. I’ve never understood that either, your required to get (and pay) for all kinds of permits, inspections,engineering and approvals and then the minute something goes wrong, they all throw their hands up and say “bummer, but not my problem”. Why aren’t these people ever held responsible for their decisions? What a great job, huh?

      • comments June 15, 2017 at 1:18 pm

        They (the city of stg) actually can be held to account from failures caused by their inept or corrupt permitting. I’ve seen it happen. It will take a lawyer and possibly the courts tho.

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