How an ‘ancient landslide’ keeps threatening a railroad, homes in San Clemente
On a summer day in 2015, the Santa Margarita Mountains were coated in snow, their peaks blanketed in white.
But the mountains were not the only beauty of the San Clemente area.
It was, in fact, a stunning valley between mountains that is known for its beauty and serenity. It is an area that is ripe for preservation, and the idea of preserving San Clemente was first presented more than a century ago.
The idea was the brainchild of John Cushing, at that time the president of the Santa Angela Ranch.
Today, it may be the brainchild of someone else, according to a news release that was posted late last month on the town’s website. The release, by the San Clemente Planning Commission, says the commission plans to study “an ‘ancient landslide’” and “proposed land use of the northern end” of the city’s western boundary.
Although the city owns San Clemente’s eastern boundary, the city says the area where the planning commission wants to place a road and a new home is part of a larger parcel of land under the control of the state of California and the U.S. Forest Service.
The state agency is currently seeking to acquire land along the San Clemente/Auburn/Santa Barbara county line that would allow the agency to build the Santa Margarita Project, which would bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic development to the area.
The proposed road, according to the release, will be located on a ridge that, because of the “ancient landslide,” could threaten homes in San Clemente.
The state owns the land, and it is up to the city government to decide how to deal with the threat, the release said.
In 2016, a fire killed five people in San Clemente, and the area was on its way to becoming the “most dangerous fire zone in Orange County,” according to the city’s website.
The “ancient landslide” is “the result of a series of catastrophic floods, including the Santa Margarita/Auburn