Portuguese Bend Landslide
Portuguese Bend, in Rancho Palos Verdes, was named for Portuguese whalers who used the cove for a rendezvous and a whaling station. Portuguese Bend was also a smuggler's hideaway. From 1945 to 1956, until a major land slide occurred in the area ,the Livingston Quarry operated, mining such minerals as barite, quartz, dolomite, gypsum, as well as basalt that was mined for use as a railroad bed material. This area is part of the Forrestal Preserve area, which was purchased as a nature preserve in 1996.
Portuguese Bend Landslide area, with Livingston Quarry at Ladera Linda in upper right
In 1956 a 260 acre landslide started. The land slide was triggered by roadwork by L.A. County road crews who were constructing an extension of Crenshaw Blvd. from Crest Road, through Portuguese Bend, to Palos Verdes Drive South. Approx. 235,000 tons of dirt which had been excavated for the road had been relocated to the top of an ancient, but previously dormant land slide. In August, 1956, the landslide broke a water line, and significant land movement began. A number of homes began to slide and some of the roads had to be re-routed. Some residents gave up and saw their homes go into the ocean; others left the area. Approx. 100 homes were destroyed, and more than 50 damaged, and the Portuguese Bend club house, restaurant, and pool were destroyed.
The land in this area has moved more than 400 feet seaward, and continues to creep towards the ocean to this day, requiring constant repair and maintenance of Palos Verdes Drive . A building moratorium still exists in the landslide area. Several homes continue to be occupied in the land slide area, with the homeowners constantly leveling their home due to land movement by the use of hydraulic jacks.
On October 1, 2008, the State Appeals Court reversed a lower court decision known as the “Monks” case and decided that the Land Slide building moratorium ordinance of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes for the Portuguese Bend area constituted an unconstitutional "taking" of property, and that the City should issue building permits to the 17 property owner in the law suit wishing to build homes in the area. "A permanent ban on home construction cannot be based merely on a fear of personal injury or significant property damage," the jurist concluded, and ordered the case remanded for further proceedings to determine an appropriate remedy.
On October 8th, 2008, the City Council decided to appeal this decision to the State Supreme Court. On December 17th, 2008, the California State Supreme Court denied the City’s appeal allowing the 17 property owners the right to build on their property. The City is currently evaluating whether to extend this right to other property owners in what is referred to as Zone 2 of the landslide area.
Portuguese Bend before landslide
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