Next week, city officials plan to remove from four houses threatened by the Carson Street landslide and allow residents back into their homes overnight for the first time in over a month, Chief Building Official John McGuire said.
McGuire said the city would also remove the concrete barricades lining Carson Street if the weather stays dry. The barricades were used to stop a possible slide from pushing houses out into the street.
Eight homes in a row sit vacant along Carson Street. Four have been , abandoned by their owners and deemed too hazardous for living. The four others were yellow-tagged in the midst of March storms, forcing families out of their homes overnight in case a sudden slide buried their homes while the residents slept, the yellow-tag notices said.
The homes butt up against a 200-foot-high hillside that is shifting both above and below ground. The hillside has more than a decade-long history of problems and has forced five homes to be permanently evacuated. One house was demolished due to slide damage.
Securing the hillside could mean constructing a 120-foot deep retaining wall which was estimated to cost $4 million in 2006, McGuire said. He added that the slide has only gotten worse since then.
The hillside is owned by the neighborhood’s Home Owners Association, which has dealt with years of litigation over the hill and is likely unable to take on the costs associated with stopping the slide. The HOA’s board of directors did not wish to comment when the homes were yellow-tagged.
Residents hoped state or federal aid would come after Hercules a state of emergency over the Carson Street slide on March 29 and joined Contra Costa County in an the next day. But a statement issued April 14 by California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) Acting Secretary Mike Dayton did not look promising:
“In light of the State’s fiscal situation, at my direction, Cal EMA will have no choice but to be more restrictive on recommendations to the Governor’s office to authorize the use of CDAA funds following incidents that do not: 1) Cause an exceptionally large amount of damages; 2) Require a great deal of mutual assistance from other counties; and 3) Have other extraordinary circumstances,” the statement read.
For now, McGuire said, Hercules will remain in a state of emergency over the Carson Street slide in hopes that the ongoing declaration will increase the likelihood of getting outside aid.