Soledad Residents Lose Homes, Now Lawsuit

By Paul Krueger
|  Thursday, Oct 1, 2009  |  Updated 1:03 PM PDT
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Soledad Residents Lose Homes, Now Lawsuit

A viewer submitted photo of the Oct. 2007 La Jolla landslide.

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When Mother Nature destroys your house, don't go trying to blame it on the city. That's the message a judge gave 65 homeowners whose homes were damaged from the Mount Soledad landslide two years ago.

In a decision released Thursday, a San Diego judge ruled that the landslide was not caused by water leaks from city pipes, and the city was not responsibile for damage to private property.

Dozens of homes were damaged in the slide, which was estimated to cause $26 million in damages to public infrastructure and $22 million to private property.

Shortly before 9 a.m. on October 3, 2007, Soledad Mountain Road began to stretch and fall apart. As the minutes passed, a 200 foot stretch of road began sliding down the hillside, crushing homes in its path. According to fire crews, three homes were moved 30 feet down the hillside.

On Thursday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn ruled that the homeowners could not show at trial that leaks from city water pipes were "a substantial contributing cause of the landslide." 

Styn said that the land was moving as early as March 2007 and that the addition of water from leaking city pipes "would not be a significant contributing factor."

No experts testified that the leaks made it worse, according to Styn.

The six page ruling was released at 11:30 a.m. Thursday after a month-long trial. In ruling in the city's favor, he asked the city's attorneys to prepare a judgment in the case.

All along, the city blamed shifting earth on Soledad Mountain Road. According to staffers with the mayor’s office at the time of the slide, there was no evidence that it was caused by city water or utilities.

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