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Emergency Declared as San Clemente Grapples with Latest Landslide Crisis

The City of San Clemente declares a state of emergency as landslides along the coast continue to threaten historic structures, pedestrian walkways, and the railway.

In an unprecedented move, an emergency declaration has been issued as the picturesque coastal town of San Clemente faces the brunt of yet another landslide, leaving residents and authorities on high alert. In the latest geological upheaval to hit the area, city officials have declared a state of emergency, amplifying concerns about the stability of the region. The landslide, which occurred on February 2, 2024, has prompted urgent responses from local agencies as they grapple with the aftermath.

Orange County Transportation Authority CEO Darrell E. Johnson reached out to Caltrans Director, Tony Tavares on February 1, 2024 asking for access to $10 million in emergency funds from OCTA. Johnson emphasized his gratitude to the state in a statement saying, “I’m grateful for the state’s partnership and for recognizing what an important issue this is for regional mobility.”

The recent landslides pose the greatest threat to the regional coastal rail that trails along the San Clemente coastline. A pedestrian bridge has already been claimed by the landslides that took place a week prior. 

The 351-mile long railway connecting San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo runs directly through San Clemente, posing difficulty for both the Amtrak and Metrolink to resume operations further south than San Juan Capistrano.

Reports have shown that $22.7 million has already been dedicated to fixing slope failures in San Clemente by OCTA and the state of California. San Clemente alone has spent approximately $8.5 million to secure the slope at the Casa Romantica which was threatened by the slides of 2023. 

The declaration not only underscores the urgency of the situation but also highlights the need for a comprehensive strategy to address the recurring landslide issues that have plagued San Clemente. As the community rallies together to overcome this latest setback, questions linger about the long-term solutions needed to safeguard the town's future against the forces of nature.


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