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Slipping hillsides cause concern for Santa Barbara residents, ahead of more rain

Section of hillside off Carrillo Street that is slowly eroding at the base.
Dieri Castrejon/KEYT
Section of hillside off Carrillo Street that is slowly eroding at the base.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Concerns are mounting after last week's atmospheric river left the hills throughout the city saturated and, more rain is on the way.

Residents on Santa Barbara's Mesa are paying close attention to hillsides that are slipping in their neighborhood.

Local problem spots include the area below the Santa Barbara Highlands development above W. Carrillo Street and, sections of the hillside below and above homes on Miramonte Drive. Both have eroding soil and swaths of ice plant and trees that are uprooted and slipping.

Clark James lives in the area and said he is worried as he sees more soil coming down and tree roots exposed after the heavy rains. James said soil on the Mesa contains a lot of sand.

"This whole area is made of that," said James. "If it weren't for roots, there's nothing to hold it together."

James said he has reached out to the city to voice his concern, but as of Thursday afternoon, he had not heard back.

James pointed to another tree that recently came down on the side of the hill on Carrillo Street.

"Here's a perfect example where you see this hardscape of sandstone starting to degrade and slip with the gravity. Notice, no rock in it -- it's all solid sand, there's nothing else in it to keep it from coming down. So when you supersaturate with water, you create a lot of heaviness and break materials apart. And, bring another storm on top of that and add additional weight that flow, you get landslides. That's starting to happen here." 

It appears that city officials are aware. A "slide" warning sign is posted below a hillside that's breaking away on Miramonte Drive.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Beth Farnsworth

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