The small coastal town of La Conchita is holding up despite a wetter winter in an area known for landslides.
In 1995 and 2005, the Ventura County community just south of Carpinteria, sustained major landslides from a large coastal cliff that shadows the homes where about 300 people live. It sits alongside Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean.
The 1995 slide destroyed some property at the base of the hill. The 2005 slide crushed homes and 10 lives were lost.
Today, the slide is still present, and barriers do some of the work to hold back the tons of dirt remaining in the area.
The mountain has no signs of any new cracks or pop outs. It’s as normal as it has been for the last few years.
This year however, the area is seeing more rain. In the last four weeks, about 4.5 inches of rain has been recorded.
In 1995, an El Nino winter with “Pineapple Express” storms relentlessly soaked the area and 15 inches of rain fell in the month prior to the March slide.
That disaster also left Highway 101 coated with mud for days. It forced thousands of cars each day to be rerouted around the closure causing lengthy detours. It had transportation and economic impacts in the nearby coastal communities and along the freeway corridor to San Luis Obispo, where an alternate route connected.
Longtime community leader Mike Bell says he and the town are prepared. Many residents, like Bell, remember the past tragedies but remain committed to their small, ocean front slice of the California coast.
Residents have had meetings with each other, and with the Ventura County Fire Department, Highway Patrol and Ventura Sheriff’s Department.
If something serious happens, the residents know to call 911, leave for their safety or drive around and honk their horn as an emergency notification.
Bell also has a small tractor ready to move dirt is streets have minor problems.