We here at The Sierra Madre Tattler are currently having a rewarding conversation with Bill Coburn on the blog that he has attached to his Sierra Madre News Net site. Also in the mix is his informational and elegantly designed mudslide awareness site, Sierra Mudre.info.
Now my initial observation to Bill was that the Santa Anita Fire of last April, as he points out on Mudre, is obviously a deciding factor in the mudslide problems we are now facing. Fire ravaged hillsides are the curse of many foothill cities, and we need to be concerned each and every time a storm rolls in. However, there was nothing on his site about the mudslide problems at the "development" plagued One Carter Estates being a contributing factor. Given the serious problems many homeowners in that area have suffered, I thought this was a significant oversight.
To his credit, Bill took my point under consideration. He admitted that this "... was an inadvertent omission" on his part. "I overlooked One Carter as a contributing factor." He then updated SierraMudre.info to include the following:
"Less than 3% of the expected ten year storm mud-flow (sic) is expected to come from the One Carter property, some of which was denuded by fire, and then some by the developer. So the development at One Carter was also a (minor) contributing factor to the potential mud and debris flow problems the City is facing."
Now I wasn't quite sure that what Bill had written here was in the spirit of what I was talking about. As I pointed out in my next post.
"Not to belabor the point, but do you have any convincing statistical evidence to back up the 3% claim? It has always been my observation that acts of God are more often than not capricious, and saying that storm damage can be predicted with statistical accuracy strikes me as being more than a bit counterintuitive. And besides, can you really be certain that those homeowners who have been experiencing the consequences of the One Carter mudflows would be all that comforted by their inclusion in that 3% figure? I mean, you have seen the photos, right?"
Bill grumpily replied that the 3% figure comes "from math." He then made what I considered to be a rather startling admission, especially given his reputation for being something of an expert on local hillside disasters.
"Do you have photos of mud flowing from One Carter? I haven't seen any. Nor have I seen any mud flowing from One Carter. Perhaps you can tell me when this mudflow occurred, and/or provide me with copies of the photos?"
Included in a featured Dec. 15 article printed in the Pasadena Star News ("Rain snarls traffic, raises threat of mudslides below hills burned by Santa Anita Fire"), there is a photo of the sandbag barrier just downhill from the entrance gate to One Carter. "Sandbags are stacked on Carter Avenue in Sierra Madre to direct the mud and water runoff from the first major storm to strike the southland ..." reads the description written below the picture.
In October of 2007, in what was one of the most boneheaded decisions ever made by our City Hall, Dorn Platz was given an extension of their permit to begin work on the One Carter development. Boneheaded in that what they authorized was the stripping of all the trees and undergrowth from that steep hillside location, and in the middle of the rainy season. The result, in January of 2008, which should have been obvious to the solons responsible, was mudflow damage to many of the homes in the One Carter area.
Here's a couple of pictures of that damage. There are plenty more where these came from.