Friday, May 28, 2010

Blue on the Hill

As a collector of South Pas stories, you'd think I would know the scoop on this enormous blue tarp cascading down the hillside above Lower Arroyo Park.

Someone really wanted to do their own backyard version of Christo and Jeanne- Claude? No?

I don't have a clue.

Anyone?

21 comments:

Jilly said...

I saw exactly this on a hillside near to me after heavy rains and part of the land had fallen away? No idea if a situation here could relate to your photo but perhaps it's possible?

Judy Williams said...

Slip and Slide gone terribly wrong.

Mister Earl said...

This was when we had heavy rains about 3 or 4 years ago. The back yards of a few houses in Highland Park began to slide down the hill. I think one may have had a swimming pool that was destroyed and some back-yard decks came down. Residents were evacuated for several days. A few of these houses were ultimately condemned, and these are fairly nice houses. This hill is behind the horse stables in South Pas, and there were one or two nights where they needed to move the horses because they were afraid the whole hillside might come down on the stables. There was talk of moving the horses to the Little League diamonds near the stables, and there was some friction because the Little League didn't want the horses on their fields. I'm not sure what ended up happening those nights, but after awhile it was clear that the hillside wasn't going to come down on the stables. But I believe a few of these houses have been sitting empty all this time. I'm sure others will remember more.

Mister Earl said...

This house is in the 1000 block of Aratina Street in Los Angeles. Go to Google Maps, Satellite View, and you'll see the tarp. You'll also see that the there is damage to the back yards of the couple houses just south of this one. I'm not sure if the residents have since been allowed to move back in.

San Diego Farmgirl said...

I like Judy's Slip N Slide idea better. As adults, they'd say to their kids: "you think you have it bad, when I was a kid, we had to slip and slide down the eroded hillside, and we liked it!"

dbdubya said...

Mr. Earl's got most of the story. Here's the rest.

It was early 2005, the year we had the record rainfall. The hillside behind several houses across the Arroyo failed. No houses collapsed, but they lost their yards. The houses were "yellow-tagged," but the owners were eventually allowed back in. I don't believe any were condemned.

The best part of the story deals with the horses. Because of the weeks of heavy rains, the Arroyo was roaring. For the first time in memory, the spillway to Devil's Gate Dam, just above the Rose Bowl, was overflowing causing a huge cloud of mist over the 210 Freeway. Concern was expressed that if there were to be a catastrophic failure of this hillside, it could block the Arroyo creating a dam. The flood would take out the San Pascual Stables and all the horses boarded there. I was part of the discussion and suggested that if that highly unlikely event happened, the horses could be temporarily evacuated to the Little League field. Seemed like a good idea at the time - a large enough pasture with a secure fence and grass for the horses to eat. In an effort to calm the nerves of the Stable owners, the contingency plan was explained to the operators of the stables by someone from Public Works.

As the rains continued into the evening, someone from the Stables decided to be cautious and without notifying anyone, had all the horses moved to the fenced field. A short time later, one of the Councilmen who's sons played Little League, drove by and saw the very soggy field filled with equine players. Realizing that the baseball season was not far off and that the horses were not particularly conducive to improving the quality of the infield, he called the Police Department and wanted to know what fool decided it would be a good idea to turn the once pristine baseball field into a paddock. That resulted in the horses being returned to the stables, but not before I drove by and saw a very surreal scene. It was raining lightly with fog hanging over the field. There were about 25 very content horses thoroughly enjoying their freedom. Most were grazing in the outfield. I wished I had a camera because I'm sure it's a sight not to be seen again.

In addition to the Councilmen, the City's Community Services Director, responsible for all the parks, did not think to keenly of the idea. Fortunately, the damage to the fields was minimal and they were ready for opening day.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Judy Williams said...

Farmgirl-

I remember being bruised to smithereens after an afternoon of running and crashing ourselves to the ground so we could slide down that slippery tarp. I also walked to school with no shoes and no breakfast. (in the snow)

Pasadena Adjacent said...

.... and what about the poison ivy at the end of the slide? summers covered in crackling pasty calamine pink

Trish said...

the hills over the Arroyo have for years been unstable. There was one year our softball season was threatened because of the unstable hill over the softball side of the Arroyo fields in SoPas. I remember once they let us back to play, standing, looking at the massive hillsides wondering...can I run fast enough to get out of the way if it comes down? Then I panicked...I'd be ok if I were at 3rd base, but I was catching a lot..the hill would be behind me, I'd only be able to hear it coming!

I like the slip-n-slide theory, bump, bounce, ouuuch, urgh, arrrrgh!

My other thought was a pool on an unstable hill and bingo, all that blue from the pool, all over the hill, oozing down...or so it would work if such things worked that way.

Interestingly, I don't recall seeing anything like this in the Altos in all my years...maybe whomever built those "stilt" houses knew some of what they were doing? naaah.

Judy Williams said...

I remember mercurochrome and tincture violet too. Nobody had ever heard of Neosporin.

Mister Earl said...

dbdubya: Thanks for filling in the rest of the story, most of which I didn't recall if I ever knew it.

Now let me get this straight: About 25 horses lives might have been endangered, someone responsible for those horses decides to move them to a safer area, and a South Pasadena CIty Councilman is worried about his son's Little League field being in bad shape for the season, which hasn't even started yet? Just want to make sure I've got the facts right. Now why does this not surprise me? Am I correct in assuming that this gentleman is still on the Council? Am I correct in assuming that it's not the current mayor, whom I don't believe was on the Council at that time?

dbdubya said...

No, that Councilman is no longer on the Council. And, actually, his concerns were appropriate. There was not an immediate threat and the stable owners had been told what would happen in a worst case scenario. They took it upon themselves to act and move the horses when it wasn't necessary.

Mister Earl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mister Earl said...

Well I guess I overstated the case, but for some reason the mention of South Pasadena City Council makes me a little touchy. But I mean, whoever moved the horses was concerned about their survival.

Was the baseball diamond really a safer location than the stables in the event of a flood? Aren't they on the same level?

WV: shistr - usually applied to lawyers, but maybe better applied to politicians.

Mister Earl said...

By the way, Judy, love the image of that tarp being used as a Slip 'n Slide!

And Heather, I'm writing this with rock chalk on the back of a shovel as I sit in my log cabin without electricity.

Kat said...

A tiny extra detail on the slid-down house: I think the city of Los Angeles (I think that's technically the city those houses belong to) decided that it was up to the owners to pay for the cost of removal of the houses, once they were declared uninhabitable. Something, clearly, the owners have never done. I also seem to remember hearing that there were lawsuits pending because of supposed misrepresentations to the owners of the stability of the hill when they purchased their homes. I don't know what ever happened with that, and if that's tied to why the houses have never been removed.

I do remember walking to the La Loma bridge, however during that time, and watching the slide unfold over several days.

dbdubya said...

Those houses are, I believe, the former Dodger houses. When Walt O'Malley moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles and built Dodger stadium, they also bought a hilltop in Highland Park overlooking the Arroyo and laid out a housing tract. The idea was that the players and other Dodger employees would want to live near each other and close to the stadium. I doubt if any Dodger employee ever lived there. If you go into the neighborhood, you'll see that most of the houses are 1960's tract homes. I have no idea if O'Malley did the development or sold it off to a developer.

Laurie said...

I knew I could count on you guys to fill in the story!

(Though, I thought of a slip n slide, too!)

Mister Earl said...

Dodger houses! Can you imagine ballplayers living in that neighborhood now? Oh how I long for the days before free agency!!

pasadenapio said...

That tarp has seen better days. No wonder it's blue!

Mister Earl said...

Dodger blue, apparently.