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Big Rock Mesa Neighborhood
From Pacific Coast Highway, Big Rock Drive ascends by a series of hairpin turns into the terraced neighborhood of Big Rock Mesa. Some homes are isolated in small pockets of just one or a few houses while others have plenty of neighbors, depending on the curves and folds of the mountian side they share. There is incomparable beauty here with incredible views of the entire Santa Monica Bay coastline, Catalina Island, the Malibu shoreline, as well as the plentitude of trees, shrubs and gardens that are favored here. It is a truly beautiful place to call home and one of the closest to Santa Monica for commuting.
The steep hillsides come with some issues, large and small. On the small side, it can be hard to keep the brush vegetation cleared, as required to minimize fire danger. Always innovative, residents have experimetned with using goats used for brush clearance. During the 2003 summer, a small herd was brought in to munch away on the steep slopes between the top of Big Rock Drive and Pacific Coast Highway (also tried in Las Flores and Tuna canyons), helped by a $35,000 grant obtained by the Big Rock Mesa Property Owners Association with the help of Los Angeles County fire officials.
Big Problems at Big Rock
The beautiful steep slopes of Big Rock Mesa have proved to be unstable. In 1979 a rockslide closed PCH and destroyed homes. Then, in 1983, about 200 acres slid resulting in the condemnation of 13 houses and destabilizing of 300 more threatened by further movement. Big Rock Mesa was found to be sitting on an immense, ancient landslide that was reactivated by elevated groundwater from heavy rains. Prior to 1983, the landslide was recognized as an ancient feature that likely formed late in the Pleistocene Epoch (11,000 to 100,000 years ago) but was not expected to be a problem in modern times. Wrong. While the amount of movement in 1983 was relatively small, with total displacements ranging between 3 to 4 feet, and the direct damage to public and private property was relatively minor, it did trigger extended lawsuits, extensive geotechnical investigations, and expensive remedial measures to control the landslide.
To resolve the legal claims against the County government for approving homes in the landslide area, a $97 million settlement was divided among Big Rock Mesa homeowners, a settlement that narrowly avoided a trial that was going to require the largest courtroom in the United States, with 391 plaintiffs in 47 separate actions, and more than 275 attorneys involved.
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