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How 400 Feet of San Pedro Cliff Vanished


Five months ago, I wrote about a particularly rugged and scenic spot on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in San Pedro called White Point. Here’s the photo from that bright summer morning.

Looking down the hill from Paseo del Mar toward the Ocean in the White Point area of San Pedro. (July 31, 2011)

Unbeknownst to me, just about the time I visited the area, residents and engineers became concerned about some cracks  in the street. They were measuring earth movement in the area.

Then, the week before Thanksgiving, a big section of the hillside came sliding down, taking with it Paseo del Mar, that scenic stretch of highway I’d followed in the summertime. Reporters initially estimated the collapsed roadway as 600 feet, but a closer inspection by the Los Angeles City Engineer put the missing chunk at a little over 400 feet. There was a considerable amount of speculation about what that November weekend’s rainfall may have contributed to the instability.

By the time I’d made my first post-slide visit to the area earlier this month, about six weeks after the big slide, engineers had determined that the area outside the chain-link fences were safe. I discovered that the footpath for the White Point Nature Center and Education Center was maybe a hundred yards inland from the slide. I hiked the trail only to discover that the vantage point on the slide wasn’t that good.

It was a much better view from the east end of the closure.

The section of Paseo del Mar that slipped away the weekend before Thanksgiving, as seen from the eastern end of the road closure.

Most impressive, I think, is the aerial view the City Engineer posted in a December report.

An aerial view of the slide area at White Point. (Photo from Los Angeles City Dept. of Public Works Office of City Engineer.)

Testing continues to determine what caused the landslide, and what possibly there is it could recur again. As noted in my original post, and in the City Engineer’s report, there is a long history of landslides in the general area on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The November slide caused no injuries and no damage to homes, and authorities would like to make sure no possible future slide does, either.

As the City Engineer told a reporter for KTLA, it looks like the ocean wanted a different cliff.

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