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Newport Beach investigating stability of bluff after landslide damages three homes

Cleanup efforts and geological surveys continued this week after much of the hill behind a home in Newport Beach collapsed.

Firefighters responded to an 911 call around 10:40 a.m. Friday, Newport Beach spokesman John Pope said. Within hours, a city building inspector placed a red tag on the property in the 1900 block of Galaxy Drive as residents gathered their belongings and left.

No one was injured in the incident.

“An urban geologist checked over the weekend,” Pope said Monday. “The ground is still moving and is not considered stable yet; we don’t know yet what could happen to the house.”

A red tag appears on the front of the house in Newport Beach.

(Susan Hoffman/Times Community News)

The landslide collapsed into the backyard and destroyed the patio of the house.

The buildings on either side of the house were also damaged. They were given a “yellow tag” status meaning they are safe to enter with caution, but may not be occupied.

Newport Beach City Councilman Erik Weigand, who was on the scene Friday, said city staffers were working with affected residents.

“The city is supporting homeowners during this difficult time,” Weigand said. “We are doing everything we can to help determine the stability of the mound and assess any ongoing risks to these properties. The safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority.”

People walk outside a house with yellow warning tape around it and a basketball hoop in the driveway

Crews respond to Galaxy Drive in Newport Beach after the landslide.

(Susan Hoffman/Times Community News)

A resident of the affected neighborhood told Weigand he was becoming more concerned after observing changes in the landscape, the councilor said.

“He was pretty shaken because he knew he was just there before everything came crashing down,” Weigand said. He told me about a week before his kids were playing downstairs (the bluff). I remember playing there myself as a kid. (A landslide) isn’t something you think is happening, but with all the rain we’ve had, it makes sense.

The cliff collapsed in the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Preserve, which is under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. State officials will investigate the extent of damage to the base of the hill.

Officials have been in touch with both the homeowner whose backyard collapsed and the city of Newport Beach, said Tim Daly, spokesman for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

A Newport Beach backyard has succumbed to a landslide.

A Newport Beach home on Galaxy Drive in 1930, as seen from Back Bay, has been red-tagged after its backyard succumbed to a landslide.

(Susan Hoffman/Times Community News)

“At this time I have been told geotechnical experts will be on site to assess the situation. That will help determine what work is going on to maintain or rebuild the slope,” Daly said. “It’s just very early in the investigation and follow-up, so we don’t have much more information (other than) other than that there’s some debris on our property. We will be working with the city and the Coastal Commission as we move forward.

The weather will affect the speed at which the work can be done, Daly said. Another storm is predicted to hit Southern California later this week.

The cause of the landslide remains undetermined until geologists examining soil samples report.