CAMARILLO (CBSLA.com) — Late in 2014, 13 homes in Camarillo Springs were hit hard by tons of rock, mud, and debris as a result of heavy rains.
Seven months later, the residents who remain in the Ventura County community, which sits just south of the 101 freeway, have big concerns over a predicted El Niño winter, saying that little has been done to clean up from the last disaster, let alone prepare for a whole new one.
Resident Henry Needham, 84, and his wife escaped their Camarillo Springs home with the lives, but with little else. As he continues to fight to rebuild, Needham says he feels much like his home — a skeleton of his former self.
“If we want to get a permit to rebuilt, the city says ‘no’,” Needham explained.
The community shares a growing frustration that the city still has no permanent plan to protect their homes from the large hill behind them, which was the burn area of the 2013 Springs fire. The hill has little brush to prevent potentially devastating slides from occurring.
While new K-rails and landing areas have been installed to catch some debris during rain, homeowners maintain that is not nearly enough.
“We were expecting (the city) to abate it, to continue to do work to make things safeer for the community, to help their downhill neighbor, our community, and they haven’t done that,” HOA president Barbara Williams said.
The mayor of Camarillo says the city council will review a contract in the days ahead to hire an engineer to find a long-term solution to the threat, and he hopes to have ideas within 60 days.
Meanwhile, as talk of an approaching El Niño system grows, so does the community’s anxiety.
“We’re just sitting here, waiting for something to come down on top of us,” one resident remarked.
Regardless of what plan may develop, those involved expect the next issue will involve who pays for it. The mayor suggests the tab will likely have to be split by the owners of the hill, the homeowners, and the city.