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Heavy rain prompts warning about landslide potential at scene of deadly 2005 slide in Ventura County

A USGS photo of the 2015 slide.
Mark Reid
A USGS photo of the 2015 slide.

County cautions La Conchita's residents to be aware of the threat, and to take the initiative to evacate if they feel they are at risk.

A small landslide in the La Conchita area prompted Ventura County to issue a new alert to residents of the small coastal community about the threat of a bigger event.

The dangers of storm triggered slides have been an issue for La Conchita for decades. The community off of Highway 101 between Ventura and Carpinteria is at the base of a cliff.

In 1995, a slide destroyed or damaged 10 homes. Then, in 2005 a much larger one killed 10 people, injured 14, and destroyed or damaged 30 homes.

Ventura County officials said on Tuesday that in the last month, La Conchita had more than 11” of rain, with 1-2” more possible before the storm leaves the region.

That’s close to what geologists consider a landslide trigger mark of 15” of rainfall in a month-long period. Because of the size of the cliff, projects to control the side potential aren’t considered practical.

After the 2005 disaster, the government did geological studies. The end result was that the county warned residents they were living in La Conchita at their own risk, and it was considered to be a danger zone.

Officials say there was a small slide Monday which didn’t pose a risk to the community.

But they warn residents that there is no way to tell if, or when a larger event may occur. They say it’s up to those who live there to closely watch the situation, and decide for themselves if they should consider evacuating.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.