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San Pedro landslide is starting to accelerate

November 16, 2011 |  3:29 pm

A slow-moving landslide that is causing a coastal bluff in San Pedro to buckle and fall into the ocean is starting to speed up.

In the last two weeks, the earth along an oceanfront road has shifted downward by more than 2 1/2 feet  and is tilting toward the sea, accelerating from half an inch to 4 inches a day, Los Angeles Department of Public Works officials said Wednesday.

The hastening slide has exposed huge, deepening crevices in the asphalt along Paseo Del Mar and the adjacent White Point Nature Preserve. On the 100-foot bluff slope, chunks of earth and segments of concrete storm drain pipe are breaking away and sliding into the ocean, turning the water a murky brown.

A 900-foot stretch of the two-lane roadway between Weymouth and Western avenues has been closed since September, with warning signs and barricades posted to keep people out. 

Although no homes are believed to be at risk, the blufftop site is dangerous enough that city officials have begun building a fence around it, calling it "an immediate and life-threatening hazard" to those who enter the area. Los Angeles police have boosted patrols for vandals and trespassers.

City engineers have been tracking the land's movement since cracks appeared last spring. As the slide has worsened in recent weeks, work crews have been hustling to move sewer pipes, water lines and utility poles out of the way of the sinking bluff.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula coast -- home to other well-known landslides such as the "Sunken City" and one in Portuguese Bend -- has long been prone to geological failure because of slippery rock formations that dip toward the sea.

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-- Tony Barboza

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