Landslide Temporarily Closes Laguna Canyon Road


By Daniel Langhorne, Special to the Independent

Caltrans closed Laguna Canyon Road last Friday while workers suspended from ropes used pickaxes, shovels, and their hands to clear debris from a cliff disturbed by last week’s storm.

Geotechnical crews assessed a boulder that broke through a heavy-duty chain link fence and landed on a ledge near Milligan Drive. Caltrans closed Laguna Canyon Road between Canyon Acres Drive and Woodland Drive for nearly two hours on Friday, Dec. 27.

Caltrans workers evaluate a boulder perched on a cliff during a brief closure of Laguna Canyon Road on Dec. 27. Photo by Daniel Langhorne

By 4:30 p.m. on Friday, LBPD reported that Caltrans had reopened all lanes of Laguna Canyon Road and would conduct wet weather monitoring of the slope. Caltrans District 12 spokesperson David Matza said the hillside will not be encased with a new fence.

No future road closures are scheduled for Laguna Canyon, Matza said.

Laguna Beach police officers and cadets assisted Caltrans by directing motorists to turn around. During the road closure, a small number of Canyon Acres residents, escorted by officers, were allowed to drive cars out of their tract.

Most dog walkers and bicyclists looking to get around the road closure were prevented from crossing the Milligan Drive bridge. Unfortunately, a padlocked gate on the south end of 113 Canyon Acres Drive, which is leased by the Laguna Beach Company, temporarily prevented the public from walking between Milligan and Canyon Acres drives.

Carl Klass, a retired Laguna Beach firefighter and Canyon Acres resident, lifted the gate off its hinge so people could pass.

“I like making things easy,” he said.

Klass was spitting mad Friday that Caltrans closed a major artery for Laguna Beach. He argues that the traffic snarl created by the landslide compounds circulation problems Caltrans created by installing a signaled pedestrian path at the Laguna College of Art + Design.

“We have cardiac arrest every day, every time that light goes off,” he said. “We have to make the Canyon flow again.”

Roosevelt Lane resident Mark Marmes was concerned about a flying boulder damaging an exposed water main that spans Laguna Canyon Creek and services his tract. As a retired engineer who worked on construction sites, he suggested Caltrans award a contract with a payout that deceases every day the cliff isn’t stabilized.

“At Caltrans, no one is accountable or in a hurry because it doesn’t affect them,” he said. “Meanwhile, we’re sitting here wondering how we’ll get our groceries.”

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