In the wake of El Nino ’98


El Nino may be over, but cleaning up the damage it left behind could go on for months and possibly years. A beachfront home along Broad Beach, clobbered by pounding surf, has already been demolished, and a pair of homes on Las Flores Mesa overlooking PCH may be next in line. Caltrans is working to finalize plans to purchase and tear down the two structures, said to be caving in under a landslide. Officials for the agency fear the properties could come crashing down on Pacific Coast Highway, posing a danger to motorists.

The storms of ’98 caused havoc throughout the area, but Calle del Barco and Malibu Road were hardest hit — at least as far as city coffers are concerned. On a long list of needed repairs, the two locations make up what City Manager Harry Peacock calls “the big-ticket items.”

Correcting a slope failure at Calle del Barco is expected to run in excess of $1 million. Along Malibu Road, several storm drains need to be replaced, portions of the roadway need to be repaired and landslides need to be stabilized. Here too, repairs could top $1 million.

As far as private property is concerned, Broad Beach took the biggest beating — with a total of six homes receiving red or yellow tags. The homeowners are now in the process of evaluating whether they can make the necessary repairs. Other red- and yellow-tag designations were handed out on Malibu Road, Villa Costera and on the 20400 block of Pacific Coast Highway.

According to the city manager’s office, the total for debris removal, emergency response, temporary measures and permanent repairs will add up to $3.65 million. Considering Malibu’s unique vulnerability and compared to other areas, city officials say the area came through fairly well. “It could have been worse,” Peacock observed, “a lot worse. But I’m just glad it’s over.”