With rain falling across the LA area, one Studio City neighborhood is fearing the worst: a third mudslide in two years that could once again damage homes and devour cars, just the like the last one on Jan. 10.
And the residents of this Studio City neighborhood at the corner of Fredonia Drive and Wrightwood Lane say city officials have been promising them for two years to take action to prevent more mudslides, but so far, not much has been done.
“I think we have to be worried every time it rains. The problem still exists. It hasn’t been solved,” says Julie Ganis, whose garage and car was covered with mud after the January storm.
What’s causing the problems is tons of loose dirt that have been piling up for years on a huge home construction project just above homes. During storms, the loose dirt mixes with rain and sends a river of mud flowing down the hillside slope into the neighborhood.
In a January investigation, the NBC4 I-Team revealed that the LA Department of Building and Safety (DBS) had issued an Order to Comply to the owner of that property in December 2021 to “restore the slope to its original, stable condition.” But that order was ignored. The I-Team found that after the Jan. 10 mudslide this year, DBS again issued another Order to Comply to the property owner to stabilize the hillside, but that order was also ignored.
So residents sent a link to the I-Team investigation to their city councilperson, Nithya Raman, asking her “what can you do to help us?”
On February 11, Raman visited the neighborhood and saw the unstable hillside for herself.
“She said she wants to help us. Nothing has happened yet,” resident Julie Ganis told the I-Team.
“I’m deeply concerned about out the issue and since I met with families, I’ve been in touch with DBS,” councilwoman Raman told the I-Team.
Raman’s staff told the I-Team weeks ago that the matter would be handled in a hearing at the LA City Attorney’s office on March 8, to “compel the property owner to comply with that order” to fix the hillside and prevent more mudslides.
Residents wanted to attend that hearing, but the City Attorney’s office told the I-Team “Sorry, it’s not a public hearing.”
After the hearing took place, the I-Team asked City Attorney’s spokesman Ivor Pine for details about the hearing and the next steps for enforcement, he replied, “This office does not comment on matters pending before it.” Pine told NBC4 to ask DBS for details about the hearing.
“It feels like [there’s] a giant bureaucratic circle that’s going to keep moving around and nothing is actually going to get done” to stabilize the hillside and prevent more mudslides, says Julie Ganis.
Councilwoman Nithya Raman told the I-Team she will stay focused on making sure the problem is fixed.
“This is my number one concern for that area. And we are following up on it, to make sure the bad actors there are taking the action that they need to take at this time,” Raman said.
But as rain pours down on the Studio City neighborhood, residents there say something needs to be done immediately.
“My worst fear, is that a significant portion of the hillside comes down, homes are literally destroyed, and that someone gets seriously hurt,” said Julie Ganis.
The I-Team will stay on this story, to see if city officials take action to compel the property owner to fix the unstable hillside and prevent another mudslide.