LA CONCHITA SLIDE TRIAL TO BEGIN : RESIDENTS BLAME RANCH ATOP HILLSIDE FOR LOSS OF HOMES, DAMAGES.Byline: Michael Coit Daily News Staff Writer
La Conchita homeowners frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: by the landslide landslide, rapid slipping of a mass of earth or rock from a higher elevation to a lower level under the influence of gravity and water lubrication. More specifically, rockslides are the rapid downhill movement of large masses of rock with little or no hydraulic flow, threat still looming over their seaside community hope a civil trial starting this week will bring relief.
Nearly two years after a wall of earth destroyed nine homes, a lawsuit filed by more than 100 property owners against the La Conchita Ranch Co. is ready for trial in Ventura Superior Court.
Judge Barbara Lane will preside pre·side
intr.v. pre·sid·ed, pre·sid·ing, pre·sides
1. To hold the position of authority; act as chairperson or president.
2. To possess or exercise authority or control.
3. over two jury trials: The first will determine whether the ranch is liable for property damage, relocation costs, emotional distress emotional distress n. an increasingly popular basis for a claim of damages in lawsuits for injury due to the negligence or intentional acts of another. Originally damages for emotional distress were only awardable in conjunction with damages for actual physical harm. and lost use of property, and whether it must remove the landslide and stabilize the hillside. The second trial will determine damages, if the ranch is found liable.
``Mainly, we hope the hill will be stabilized somehow,'' said Jean Kosztics, who lives with her husband on Vista Del Rincon at the hillside's base. ``We want to stay here and we want the hill saved - nothing else.''
While some homeowners who joined in the lawsuit have remained in La Conchita, others have moved away. The trial in Lane's third-floor courtroom will bring together many who have stayed in contact through a message machine on a phone line at one of the homes.
``I don't go down there any more,'' said Dan Alvis, one of nine homeowners who lost property under dirt that let loose in March 1995. ``I don't have a home. I got reduced to zero.''
Most of the homeowners' anger is directed at the ranch company. Residents contend that the company endangered en·dan·ger
tr.v. en·dan·gered, en·dan·ger·ing, en·dan·gers
1. To expose to harm or danger; imperil.
2. To threaten with extinction. the community by weakening the hillside with the planting and irrigating of citrus orchards on a site some 300 feet above the 196 homes beginning in 1974.
The lawsuit charges the company was aware of several ancient landslides on the 600-acre ranch and failed to adequately stabilize the hillside.
Residents first were warned by the county in September 1994 that the hillside was moving. Additional warnings that a landslide could occur at any time were issued in January and February 1995, in the midst Adv. 1. in the midst - the middle or central part or point; "in the midst of the forest"; "could he walk out in the midst of his piece?"
midmost of an unusually wet winter.
The landslide came a month later, followed by a torrent See BitTorrent.
torrent - BitTorrent of mud from a side canyon.
Ventura County officials subsequently notified homeowners that the entire community is a geologic hazard area that should be avoided. County officials also reassessed properties and notified homeowners that their residences currently didn't have any value.
Ranch officials have said irrigation irrigation, in agriculture, artificial watering of the land. Although used chiefly in regions with annual rainfall of less than 20 in. (51 cm), it is also used in wetter areas to grow certain crops, e.g., rice. has not played a significant role in the hillside's stability.
The company's attorney, Frank Sabaitis, has said the citrus trees use up the irrigated water. He said natural springs deliver most of the water found in the hillside.
The ranch company filed a separate lawsuit charging that the county was liable because it approved construction of homes in the ancient landslide area.
The company, however, dropped the lawsuit in October after county attorneys provided evidence that the county was not responsible for either the landslide or the resulting damage. County Counsel James McBride James McBride may mean:
Although no more landslides have occurred, county public works public works
Construction projects, such as highways or dams, financed by public funds and constructed by a government for the benefit or use of the general public.
Noun 1. officials have monitored movement on the hillside by tracking survey points and inclinometers drilled into the slope.
``It's doing real good,'' said Kosztics. ``Maybe somebody is looking out for us.''