SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — After a landslide in San Clemente forced evacuations and the shut down rail service, local elected officials are calling for more help with stabilizing the coast.
The landslide, which occurred Thursday after several days of movement, prompted the closure of a historic cultural center, shut down rail service and forced the evacuation of an apartment building.
“We need our county, state, and federal partners,” the City of San Clemente Mayor Chris Duncan said Saturday, when elected leaders visited the site to plead for more federal and state funding to help.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley and Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49) accompanied Duncan to the site of the landslide.
Thursday’s landslide took out part of the ocean-view terrace at Casa Romantica, the historic home of the city’s founder built in 1927. The home was later converted to a cultural center.
“This has been a tragic event all the way around,” Duncan continued. “For San Clemente, our heart is really in this place. When we walk back and see the land move like this and this disaster, our hearts sink.”
Much of the rail corridor connecting San Diego to Los Angeles, also known as LOSSAN, was also closed due to debris on the tracks from the landslide.
Train service along this route only recently resumed after a lengthy closure caused by shifting ground on the tracks through San Clemente just two miles away.
“That’s a real concern of mine for economics, people’s convenience, work, school,” Foley said.
According to Levin, the corridor transports as many as eight million passengers a year in the Southern California region between services like the Metrolink and Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, generating $1 billion annually.
Some funds have already been allocated to shore up the coast to protect from further erosion, including $9.3 million secured by Levin for sand replacement.
But officials at the site of the landslide Saturday said that more is still required.
“Right now, we are really trying to push as many buttons as we can to release some funds, so we can make sure we have the resources available to shore up the side and have enough to rebuild,” Foley said.
Levin said that he is asking for $4 million in federal funds for a long-term study. The goal, he said, would be to look at re-locating sections of the rail line that are most at risk.
“This is happening in real-time,” he said. “We are going to do everything we can to deliver whatever federal funds … to supplement (what) the county is doing, and state government is doing as well. We are all in this together to get this done.”
Officials say that, without additional funds, more events like this could continue to put the vital transportation link at risk.
“Mother nature always wins,” Levin continued. “It’s such an incredible blessing to live by this amazing ocean to live on the coast, but we know with that there are some challenges.”
It is unclear how long the LOSSAN train service will be impacted by the landslide or what work might be necessary to secure the slope.
“We’ll get this going again,” Duncan said, “but it’s going to take a lot of work from our partners.”