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News and Features
News & Features
Nov. 20, 1997

City meets with residents worried about shifting soil

CITIES: Orange has found and repaired minor damage but can't say why the earth is moving under two neighborhoods.

By CLARE CLIMACO
The Orange County Register

ORANGE — The city has repaired its own property, and now residents in two neighborhoods in the northern part of the city must safeguard their own.

That was the message city officials delivered at a meeting Wednesday of more than 100 homeowners from the hilly Vista Royale and Peralta Pointe areas.

Assistant City Engineer Roger Hohnbaum said city crews have found about a dozen leaks in the city's clay sewer lines, but reassured residents that no major damage has been discovered.

Geologists have also noticed slight ground movement in the area but do not yet know the cause, Hohnbaum said.

Some residents — worried that cracked streets and leaking utility lines could result in disaster if predictions about heavy rain this winter come true — were not put at ease.

Mike Campos, who lives in the Vista Royale vicinity, said despite the city's good-faith efforts, he's afraid the cracks could be the start of a major problem.

``It's nice to see they're doing something,'' he said, ``but it's a sad thing that everyone who bought into the area is now going to face plummeting property values.''

Two geological-consulting firms — one hired by the city and the other by Peralta Pointe residents — have been studying the area's ground movement for about two months. So far, the city has spent about $80,000 in equipment and personnel to monitor the situation and repair what damage is found.

The public-works department will request more money from the City Council to pay for its geological consultant to determine the cause and extent of the damage. The results of the study could be complete by February.

Hohnbaum said that while the city has repaired damage to cracked pipes, curbs and gutters on city streets along Vista Crest, Vista Ridge and Vista Summit, most of the cracks are located on private streets in the Peralta Point neighborhood at the top of the hill.

Several homeowners have filed claims against the neighborhood's developers. Earlier this year, the city denied two claims filed by the Vista Royale homeowners association and a developer.

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