Public, private dispute stalls slide help in South Bay

March 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Santa Clara County inspectors still have not said whether they plan to do anything for people who've lost gas, power and water service because of moving ground. People there are also in danger of losing their homes, but a dispute over public and private property is complicating things.

Sue Sherrin's. Her front yard continues to slide and she explained, "This used to be straight across. This chunk has dropped off from the cement."

ABC7 first reported about the sliding hillside off Almaden Road in Santa Clara County on Tuesday night. Since then, there has been some progress. PG&E has worked all day on a gas line to install a safety valve. Residents on the private road complained the shifting hillside is causing gas, power, and water lines to break. According to a PG&E spokesperson, now if the pressure changes in the lines, it'll automatically shut off.

"So that's good news for that," said Sherrin.

Sherrin was hoping for more good news on Wednesday, but didn't get any. The issue that all five homeowners keep facing is that they are on a private road and is therefore private property. No public agency is offering to help.

"I live on Almaden Road at the bottom of the hill," said resident Grace Bates.

Bates doesn't live on the private road, but she's impacted by it. The dirt from the moving hillside caused parts of her backyard to drop by a few inches.

"If this isn't stabilized, totally stabilized, its' going to keep going and I'm going to have a mess down there," said Bates.

Thomas also lives on Almaden Road downhill from the slide zone. He said, "I would be worried about this whole landmass shifting and ending up in my living room."

While the debate over private versus public property continues, the damage tally grows. Now, neighbors are the ones helping one another pick up the pieces that seem to keep falling.

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