PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Landslides throughout our region in recent years have destroyed homes and rendered properties worthless, leaving families in the lurch.
In Pittsburgh, there have been dozens of landslides, and one now threatens a historic Oakland neighborhood. Homeowners there say the city is to blame and want to be made whole.
From the front, Schenley Farms Terrace is a street of impeccably maintained early 20th-century homes. But in the rear, a slow-moving tsunami of earth and mud has been cascading down the hillside all summer, threatening their very existence.
For 34 years, Francoise Barrionuevo and her husband took meticulous care of their home, but now fear the landslide will render it worthless. So far, the city has condemned one house and she and others believe they’re next.
“We did everything we could to make the house better than it was before,” Barrionuevo said.
“It’s worth nothing,” Barrionuevo added.
Homeowners say the slide started after Andover Terrance above them collapsed, and the city hired a contractor to repair the road but only made things worse. Barrionuevo’s son, Eric, says the contractor filled a trench with gravel, creating a holding pond that breached the retaining wall, causing the hill to slide.
“This tree was 20 feet that way,” Eric said. “So the hill has moved 20 to 40 feet.”
Two weeks ago, the homeowners met with Mayor Ed Gainey, who they say promised to make things right. But they object to subsequent emails from the Pittsburgh City Law Department, which seem to say the landslide caused the road collapse and not vice versa.
Attorney Jeffrey Morris says the city is also asking the homeowners for an easement to stabilize the road and the slide, but he says the homeowners must agree not to sue the city if further damage is caused.
“The garage, for instance, gets destroyed,” Morris said. “They couldn’t sue for that. They couldn’t sue for the loss of their property, the loss of the value of their home. All of that would be out the window.”
In response, the mayor’s office said the city is eager to begin shoring up the hillside and needs the easements to do that.
“We sincerely hope that residents grant us access to the hillside so we can begin this important work before winter. It is our goal to ensure the safety of both our residents and their properties.”
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