Slide continues to pose risk for homes in San Pablo

March 26, 2011 6:15:54 PM PDT
A hillside is slipping away in San Pablo. At least two families are getting out while they have time. The slide is threatening at least six homes.

For Leon Walker, moving day was not much of a choice. It was swift and sudden and quite sad for him and his wife who bought this house on Wyman Street seven years ago.

"I can understand people who lost houses to foreclosure, how they feel. But we have no time to do anything. We just have to move," said San Pablo resident Blanka Walker.

Since Friday night, the sidewalk and brickwork in the Walker's backyard have opened up by another foot. The landscaping already collapsed and started sliding down the hill like a giant blob filled with mud, grass and standing trees.

"I spoke to my insurance company and they said they were going to send a soil engineer on Monday. I told them they need to send a disaster team here today," said homeowner Leon Walker.

All of that land is shifting into the backyard of the Givens home down below on Hillcrest Road. They're packing up and moving out. A leaning pine tree is a constant reminder of the danger.

"Our biggest concern is those trees there. It's in the line of fire of the house. It's going to be a direct hit. So I'm helping my aunt and uncle move. That's what we're doing right now," said nephew David Wossne.

Landslides are nothing new around Wyman Street. A former neighbor showed a photo of a home that was next to the Walker's house which collapsed back in the mid 1970's.

"Well, I think that the houses shouldn't have been built there. If they slide down once and you don't take remedial measures, it's going to slide down again and that's precisely what happened and it's no coincidence that it's right on the exact same spot," said former neighbor Ray Robinson.

On Saturday, the city of San Pablo had an engineer surveying the ground, taking pictures and notes to document the shifting ground.

"What we are looking at are all the records for this area, since this is an active slide area - just like any other hillside in the Bay Area. So we are doing a records search. The soils engineer will be able to give us a better idea with all the work that is been done in this area," said Asst. City Manager Kelsey Worthy.

The city is also checking some neighbors' claims that there is a natural spring or underground water in this land that is making the earth unstable. That has not been confirmed. The city is putting the Walker's up in a hotel for the next couple of days because their home has been yellow tagged.

The back deck of a neighboring home has been declared off limits because of concerns about the shifting earth.

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