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Geologists say North Beach slide has stabilized

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

February 28, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - While officials estimate that about 150 people won't be able to return to their North Beach homes for weeks because of a landslide Tuesday morning, the good news is the slide has stabilized.

According to William Strawn with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, geologists have been performing tests on the 75-feet wide pile of rubble for the last 24 hours.

Based on the evidence, he said, there has been no further movement. He added that a break in the rain and hail overnight was a big help, but that rain could begin again at any moment and that in San Francisco, earthquakes are always a possibility.

"We live in a seismic zone and that could become a problem at any time," Strawn said. "It's so close to the old quarry and then there's the basic fact that when water gets behind rocks, they tend to slide"

In the next few days, owners of the red-tagged properties, notably those on top of the southern end of Telegraph Hill, will have to come up with a solution for cleaning up the rubble and stabilizing the sheer hillside.

Residents were given notice Tuesday that it was their responsibility to maintain the safety of their property. Strawn said it would be the same situation if someone complained of a broken stairwell that was a hazard to visitors.

Landowners have 24 hours to respond to notices of violation. The Department of Building Inspection then has the power to repair damages and bill the landowners should they decide not hire a private contractor to complete the work.

One of those businesses, Broadway Showgirls Cabaret, suffered extensive water and structural damage, according to a statement released Tuesday.

"We are grateful that no one was hurt," said the company's CEO Joseph Carouba. "The fact that everyone had just left makes us feel that someone may have been smiling down on our industry at that particular moment.

Had our managers and others been in the offices at that moment, they would have been fatalities."

According to Carouba, the management company in charge of the club has already secured an engineering firm to shore up their portion of the hill.

The club is located at 412 Broadway St. Several other neighboring buildings were damaged by the slide. The U.S. Postal Service will hold mail for residents who live at the affected addresses: 400-468 Broadway, 455 Vallejo St., and 1035-1051 Montgomery St.

Residents can pick up their mail at the North Beach Carrier Annex at 2200 Powell St.

Officials were expected to address a number of the displaced today at the Chinese Recreation Center, 1199 Mason St., where the Red Cross has set up a shelter. Many of the people there are Cantonese speakers and translators are being made available.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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