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Multimillion-dollar homes on the edge after landslide crumbles OC cliff

Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Science & Technology News

The three multimillion-dollar estates perched high on the edge of a Dana Point bluff boast some of the most magnificent views in Orange County: unobstructed panoramas of the crystal blue Pacific, boats moored in the harbor and, on a clear day, Santa Catalina.

But back-to-back rainstorms have prompted fresh concerns about the homes on the aptly named Scenic Drive. The same steep cliff that falls away under the properties — giving them the illusion of being on the edge of the Earth — has withered under the atmospheric river precipitation that pounded Southern California last week. A portion of the cliff leading up to the blufftop homes washed away in the torrent.

But though their perch appears precarious, none of the homes have been evacuated or deemed too dangerous to occupy — even with more rain in the forecast, officials said.

Dr. Lewis Bruggeman, who owns the home just above the slide area, told KCAL-TV Channel 9 that his house is "not threatened and it will not be red-tagged."

"The city agrees that there's no major structural issue with the house right now," he told the station. Bruggeman did not respond to a request for comment from The Times on Tuesday.

The slide erased the greenery that just recently backed up to Bruggeman's home, a 9,700-square-foot compound estimated to be worth nearly $16 million, leaving only sandy soil behind. On Tuesday, piles of rocks and dirt sat on the shoreline below.

 

The city's geotechnical engineer and a building inspector have visited the home to assess the slope failure, according to Dana Point officials.

"Engineers who already surveyed the home said there was no damage and there is no imminent threat to the structure, which is really good news," said Mayor Jamey Federico. "So quite frankly, it looks a lot scarier than it really is."

The entire property, including all the way down the cliff to the high tide line, is privately owned, he added.

Many cities in south and coastal Orange County have a long history of landslides, particularly during wet weather.

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