"Palos Verdes Resident since 1947"

The Latest on Water-Related Events in Palos Verdes

I suppose this will all someday be history, so on those tenuous grounds, here we go:

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the heart-rending ground movement at Wayfarer’s Chapel.  Completed in 1951, designed by famed architect Lloyd Wright, Jr (son of Frank) on land donated by Narcissa Vanderlip, this stunning chapel has become an iconic landmark on the Peninsula, rivalled only by La Venta Inn.

Due primarily to the heavy rains of the last 18 or so months, the Abalone Cove Landslide (a subset of the Portuguese Bend Landslide) has begun expanding west and is now affecting the Chapel and its grounds.  The facility recently announced its closure for two years to deal with the issue, but I suspect that is optimistic.  The slide has been moving since 1956 (I’m sure you all know the story – if you don’t, email me) and there have been many schemes to stop it, some of which would make Archimedes blush.

I went over a couple of days ago and took these pictures of the damage, which includes lifted sidewalks, cracked glass panes, ripples in the parking lot, etc.  I came away realizing that media reports have made it look worse than it actually is, but also realizing that the prognosis is not good.  They have, however, cancelled future events, including weddings.  For what it’s worth, I calculated that the total area on the Peninsula affected by land movement amounts to roughly 1.5% of the whole — in case media reports led you to believe we were all headed toward Avalon.

Also in the news recently due to rain was the collapse of the wall on the Promenade parking structure.  The cause of this has been widely mis-reported as due to the “planters” on those walls.  I saw it happen, so here is the straight scoop:  we had very heavy rain about 45 days ago – the first really significant rain this season.  As is usually the case with the first rain of the season, a lot of accumulated debris was washed toward the drains at the lower end of the top floor, thus clogging them.  Within a couple of hours there was what amounted to a lake being held there by those walls.   Now, the walls were not built as dams, and the force of the water caused their collapse onto the street below.  Here is a rather lousy iphone picture taken within a minute of the collapse.  Having witnessed it myself, I could only think of Niagara Falls.  The volume of water cascading off that top level was testament to the amount of water that had accumulated.

About a half hour after all this excitement the fire department and police showed up.  By that time the erstwhile lake had drained and all they saw was water then trickling off the edge where the fallen walls had been; so to them, the cause was clearly that the planters on the walls had become too heavy with rainwater and pulled the walls over.  Channel 5 interviewed your intrepid reporter and I gave the lake as the cause; but they and others also interviewed the firemen who, I guess, had more credibility than I.  Thus the false story about the planters got out.  Since then, workers have been busily removing planters from the remaining walls, thinking they are going avoid a repeat.

For those of you wondering about La Venta Inn, the Inn and the 2 neighbors who caused all the ruckus last year have battled each other to a standstill and La Venta is back to operating pretty much as it has in the past.  Their phone is ringing off the hook with requests for weddings until recently booked for Wayfarer’s Chapel.

So that’s the latest on high profile events in Palos Verdes from out here in the trenches.

Comments are closed.