Why I decided to refuse the City of Anaheim's insulting offer and to...
Just Say No!
In an effort to keep the landslide victims from from testifying at a trial before a jury of fellow homeowners, the City of Anaheim, after six years of harassing legal attacks against these misfortunate homeowners, has now proposed a settlement offer that will never even come close to compensating the landslide victims for the severe property damage, the loss in real estate value, the families destroyed by the financial pressures and the premature deaths caused by the actions of our corrupt city officials receiving kick-backs and 'perks' from real estate developers and business interests.
The following are some of the reasons why I have chosen to reject the degrading settlement offer made by Mayor Daly and his lawyers at Rutan and Tucker.
The over 500 landslide victims will receive less than three million dollars from the City of Anaheim for the terrible financial losses they have suffered and the mental anguish that has destroyed many of these families. What they have offered is barely enough to stabilize a single home, much less 240! The City of Anaheim's offer is less than 6 cents on each dollar lost for a terrible human tragedy that they have knowingly caused.
The City of Anaheim's concept for their Geological Hazard Abatement District (GHAD) is an unadulterated sham. The $3.5 million that they want set aside will not finance one dollar of hazard abatement! It is only sufficient to cover the maintenance of the present dewatering system that is now in place. In years to come this system will have to be expanded and replaced -- but there will be no funds to finance such a need. Except, of course, from the pockets of the landslide victims residing within the GHAD. The city will have washed its blood-soaked hands of the disaster of their own making, leaving the landslide victims to drown under the unsustainable expense of financing costly abatement measures.
The City of Anaheim from the very day after the landslide has openly salivated and pined for the creation of a GHAD. They know that only a GHAD will totally amputate this gangrene festering parcel of land from the healthy body of Anaheim -- forever -- which is their desired 'final solution'.
The only winners would be the scores of corrupt politicians, hundreds of lawyers and dozens of geological 'experts' feeding off of our misfortune. The losers would be us, the landslide victims once again being victimized by the City of Anaheim.
The City of Anaheim has no intention of ever doing anything to stop this landslide that they caused from happening again. The dewatering system now in place, according to the actual words of City of Anaheim's own chief geologist, Mark McLarty, is "just an emergency, stop-gap measure. Dewatering is not mitigation." Mitigation entails earthworks to counter the present precarious, life threatening teeter-totter balance that now exists within the headscarp of the landslide. Dewatering will not stabilize the hill. Dewatering will not prevent another landslide -- this, according to the words of Mark McLarty.
When we sell our landslide property we will be forced to lie to the prospective buyer about the actual condition of the landslide's instability -- But we will never have to worry about any legal ramifications since the City of Anaheim will gladly stand behind our lies, backed by the full power of the laws they will now create to cover their corrupt GHAD sham. Personally, I would always have serious problems looking into a mirror after I had done that to another human being.
Nearly 30 million gallons of water are now being pumped out of the Anaheim Landslide -- 6 years after the tragedy occurred and in the middle of a very dry season. Since no mitigation has ever taken place, the dewatering process is the only dike holding back the inevitable final landslide.
Mayor Daly and his Council have decided to now abandon or decommission more than one third of all of the present dewatering capacity -- wells that are now pumping out 13,140 gallons of water each and every day. Nearly 10,000,000 gallons of water would then be left within the unstable landslide, compounding upon itself each and every year till we have returned, once again, to the life threatening conditions of 1993. (Luckily, Mayor Daly has given each of us landslide victims the security of an official City Council-approved escape route map -- to use when the unstable hill comes rumbling after us.)
With this fake GHAD, the City of Anaheim will have effectively set all of the victims adrift, 300 homeowners, unwary of the dangers that lie ahead, sailing in a sinking ship with one-third of the bilge pumps removed.
Once the GHAD is in place, the Mayor and his political cronies will be able to wash their blood-soaked hands of that whole section of Anaheim. All of their liability for having promoted the development of homes upon a known landslide will quickly evaporate with the stroke of a pen. The agreement will effectively eliminated all of our rights as citizens:
"Releasors have read the terms of Section 1542 of the California Civil Code and expressly WAIVE its provisions. It states:
'A general release does not extend to claims which the creditor does not know or suspect to exist in his favor at the time of executing the release, which if known by him must have materially affected his settlement with the debtor.'"
The City of Anaheim insists that we waive all of these rights as citizens!
No Mitigation of Landslide Allowed... Even though the central concept for a GHAD is "Abatement" -- none of these funds can ever be used to abate or mitigate the slide: The City of Anaheim demands that "the use of the above-described 3.5 million dollar fund which is anticipated to be created through litigation settlements shall be restricted to activities which materially and substantially promote the objective of controlling groundwater levels." Even their own geologists, Eberhart & Stone, have stated, and I quote: "Dewatering is a stopgap measure and has nothing to do with mitigation." Mitigation is the process of removing the "Hazard" to the safety of residents living in the shadow of the landslide.
Mayor Daly and his Council know that the fund would be depleted in a couple of months if the moneys were used for actual mitigation of the landslide dangers.
The Big Deception... Even if these GHAD funds are used solely for dewatering purposes, they can easily depleted in less than a decade. The proof of this fact is what happened with the GHAD that was formed to control the Big Rock Landslide which was roughly the same size as the Anaheim Landslide and had a similar number of effected homes, about 250. Their fund was $10,000,000.00 -- $6,500,000.00 more than our fund! -- The Big Rock Landslide GHAD fund was completely consumed by the excessive costs of mitigation in only 8 years. At that rate the Anaheim Landslide GHAD fund would barely last two to three years.
Each homeowner in the Big Rock GHAD are now paying $5,000.00 each and every year to sustain their burdensome self-taxing district -- with no assistance from any city or government agency. The past is prologue. This same fate now lies ahead for the already victimized residents of Anaheim Hills.
Their constant lies... One of Mayor Daly and his Council's most sardonic comments was their unmitigated lie that "numerous residents in the vicinity of the Santiago Landslide have expressed a desire to form a geologic hazard abatement district." The City of Anaheim, from day one, for 6 solid years, continually refused to discuss any settlement unless they were able to force the GHAD upon the landslide homeowners.
Why are there exactly 300 Homes in the GHAD? Why does their GHAD map meander in and out of one neighborhood after another? At first it sight, it just does not make any sense: There are only 23 homes on the landslide -- but the city has also included an additional 277 homes located literally blocks away from the landslide. Why are these 277 homeowners being taxed for a hazard that the City of Anaheim has constantly stated in a court of law affects only 23 homes? It is obvious, by the sworn testimony of the representatives and lawyers for the City of Anaheim, that 90% of the homes should not be included in the GHAD.
But, the City of Anaheim has always known that without these homes, located blocks away from the furthest edges of the landslide, being forced into the GHAD, there would never be enough money to support the heavy burden of taxes and assessments necessary to sustain the high annual costs that landslide 'maintenance' requires.
I can easily visualize Mayor Daly, aided and abetted by his legal eagles, back-figuring this whole GHAD scam: "Let's see, if this landslide is going to cost $1.5 million per year to maintain and these people should be able to scrape up about $5,000.00 per year, how many homes do we need to make this thing happen?" After a moment of thoughtful silence, a lawyer's voice from the darkness says: "300!"
Without including at least 300 homes, Daly's GHAD would collapse under the extreme financial weight of holding back a landslide.
What about the dangers of the constantly encroaching Pegasus Landslide? Please note that on Exhibit A there is another landslide noted by the City of Anaheim's geologists (on the left), called the Pegasus Landslide. This landslide is extremely active to this very day, as can be seen in the article: 'Anaheim's Landslide-Prone Infrastructure.'
Even though this landslide is actually more active than the main Avenida de Santiago Landslide, it has been completely excluded from the GHAD because of the fact that it is already part of a mini-GHAD formed a decade ago, that has financially collapsed due to the horrendous burden of self-taxing, forced upon it by the City of Anaheim.
The homes adjacent to the Pegasus Landslide, along Aspenwood Circle and Leafwood Drive are in imminent danger of also being engulfed by this constantly moving mass of land. These homes were never part of the failed Pegasus mini-GHAD, and therefore pose a serious litigation danger to the City of Anaheim in the very near future. And that is the only kind of danger Mayor Daly and his Council ever worry about! They knew that if they could just sneak an extra couple of blocks, just a neighborhood or two, into the Avenida de Santiago Landslide, they could easily kill an extra bird or human. Their only expense would be the yellow marker they used on Exhibit B. Any damage done by the constantly creeping Pegasus Landslide would no longer be a liability to the City of Anaheim -- It would be an instant liability for the victims of the newly formed Anaheim Landslide GHAD.
Mayor Daly's other big plus with his meandering yellow marker is that it increased the taxable number of homes within the GHAD to his 'Magic 300' mark of landslide endangered homes that could be sucked financially dry.
According to the "Settlement Agreement Section VIII, No Assessment For Settlement Sum" -- the City of Anaheim states it will not assess the landslide victims for the cost of the city's GHAD. That could not be further from the truth.
Of the $3.5 million the City of Anaheim has agreed to pay to fund their Geologic Hazard Abatement District (GHAD), $3 million will be coming out of the pockets of the homeowners (while a portion of these funds are being paid by insurance carriers, any shortfall -- as in the case of our association, the Anaheim Ridge Estates HOA -- will be paid by the homeowners in increased assessments.
On February 1, 1999, our homeowners association sent out its monthly bill -- which was previously $115.00 per month, now astonishingly jumped to $415.00 -- a $300.00 increase, due solely to the lawsuit filed by the City of Anaheim to punish the landslide victims.
The monthly increases have now started no matter what Mayor Daly promises!
Anaheim Hills area is redlined: The redlined map attached was sent to a new resident of the Anaheim Hills area. He was told by the agent that the insurance company would not write a policy for his home since it was located within the boundaries of a known landslide.
The City of Anaheim openly admits that the the dewatering system now in place will not stop the landslide's threat to our homes and our personal safety: “Although dewatering efforts will continue for some time, it must be made clear that these efforts are dwarfed in comparison to the amount of rain that can be put into the impacted area by a storm. There is no way to accurately assess what could happen if large quantities of rain fall in the area, but this would be cause for great concern among emergency response personnel. The best course of action is to attempt to proactively pump as much water out of the area as possible, in the hopes that these efforts will minimize the effects of any future rainfall.”
Given their own above quoted statement, how can the City of Anaheim now want to shut down 33% of their GHAD dewatering volume, over 10,000,000 gallons, now being sucked from the landslide each and every year?
To this very day the City of Anaheim continues to lie about the existence and the severity of the landslide to to prospective home buyers (see Letter #03, Letter #19 and Survey) -- Just as they have lied to us from the beginning.
“It's not the city's responsibility to guarantee a homeowner's safety!” states Anaheim City Attorney Jack White.
The City of Anaheim included hundreds of homes in the GHAD that were located blocks away from the landslide but did not include the acreage of a local developer whose land is just a few feet from the leading edge of the landslide. If his property had been included in Geologic Hazard Abatement District the property value would have dropped dramatically. Mayor Daly, because of his lucrative consulting business with local real estate developers, understands these financial problems that developers can have when their property is stigmatized by a word such as GHAD.
Not only has Mayor Daly removed the 'GHAD Stigma' from this local developer, his Honor the Mayor has agreed to drill three dewatering wells on the developer's land and then assign the maintenance and costs of the those off-site wells to the GHAD. Not only will the GHAD-taxed homeowners be responsible for maintaining these off-site wells; but the landslide homeowners will also become liable for any damage caused to the developer's land in case his wells fail, thereby re-activating the landslide! The GHAD homeowners will also be responsible for any peripheral damage caused to the surrounding areas outside 'their' GHAD boundaries when the landslide is again re-activated by heavy rains or earthquakes.
The City of Anaheim now demands that we grant them the right to create a permanent access road across my property, through my apple orchard -- which they have completely destroyed with their bulldozers and drilling rigs -- and without offering any sort of just compensation for having forcibly taken this property from me.
Gerald M. Steiner
Formation of GHAD Resolution #99R-31 Notice of Vacancy GHAD "Benefit Area" Map Landslide DAMAGE Map