em>Sunken City from above. Photo: OneCoolThingEveryWeekend.com
The old landslide zone of concrete slabs and other debris near San Pedro's Point Fermin park would be opened to the public during daylight hours under a plan pushed by City Councilman Joe Buscaino. The area has been officially closed off by a fence since 1987, and in 2011 was declared an active hazard due to sliding. But, well, you know. People go in. Some fall off the rocks.
From the Daily Breeze story:
Buscaino formally asked city parks officials this month to study the possibility of legally allowing visitors into the 6-acre property next to Point Fermin Park rather than forcing them to trespass. Local residents last year launched a campaign to reopen the area for the first time in decades.
“As you are aware, the rich history and scenic views from Sunken City in San Pedro tend to attract many visitors from throughout the region on a daily basis,” Busciano wrote in a May 1 letter to Michael Shull, director of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. “It is one of the only areas along our coastline that remains closed to the public.”
The former slide site, often featured in movies, has long been a destination for young people. The Internet has only spread its fame, drawing visitors from all over who are curious.
Sunken City once was home to bungalow homes overlooking the ocean in a housing tract owned by Harbor Area developer George Peck.
Then, in 1929, it all began sliding toward the ocean.
D. J. Waldie wrote about Sunken City for KCET's website in 2011. Sample:
Coastal Los Angeles County began dropping into the Pacific at the end of the last Ice Age, as rising sea levels ate away at what had been inland hillsides and are now coastal bluffs. The movement accelerated after beachfront development in the 1920s.
In 1929, a six-acre crescent of San Pedro near Point Fermin began to sag into the bay. The slippage of the bluff was so gradual that nearly all the affected homes were moved off their migrating lots, leaving behind a jumble of tilted roads and building foundations. They have continued south into the Pacific ever since as the eerily named Sunken City.
In the fall of 1969, a 300-foot-long crevice opened up at edge of the slide area and more cracks appeared two streets away. In the summer of 2010, a big chunk of Sunken City dropped 100 feet into the surf. And in early November this year, new movement of San Pedro's slow-motion landslide prompted city officials to declare the site "an immediate and life-threatening hazard."
A 900-foot section of Paseo Del Mar was blocked off to keep out the curious. Power lines were cut. City crews began relocating water and sewer lines to the stable side of the bluff.
Stable for now. The lesson from still-sliding Portuguese Bend is that earth movement along vulnerable parts of the coast is inevitable, even if it takes generations.