Mudslide victims may be homeless for months

Michael Brodeur, the pastor of Promised Land Fellowship church in San Francisco, has spent his April cutting back his hours, talking to lawyers and driving every day from a hotel in San Bruno to his abandoned home in Broadmoor to feed his cat. Now, he’s worried that this could go on for months.

He, his wife, his mother, four children and one grandchild are one of five Broadmoor families who cannot return home because of mudslides that struck April 3 and 12. But while two families on Nimitz Drive have their fate in their own hands, residents of three homes on MacArthur Drive must wait until their uphill neighbor decides what to do.

The owners of 606 Larchmont Drive had previously said they were going to demolish the newly constructed home, which sank in a mudslide April 3. Now they may try to save the building, according to Stan Brody, a financial backer of the construction. Its continued existence and the instability of the slope beneath it, however, threaten 663, 667 and 671 MacArthur Drive, county officials said.

“As long as that house is sitting there, we have a problem,” San Mateo County building official Bill Cameron said. But, he added, “With the rain stopped, the building has stopped moving. If he thinks he can save it, we have to … give him that opportunity.”

Meanwhile, the MacArthur residents are allowed to visit their yellow-tagged homes during daylight hours, but may not sleep there at night. Brodeur estimated it could be months or years before they can move back. The county will not wait years, Cameron said, but it could take months.

Work cannot commence until the ground dries out. County officials will re-evaluate the MacArthur homes next week, Cameron said, adding that geologists have been to the Larchmont house daily. He estimated that it will cost at least $250,000 to demolish the home and stabilize the slope, and more if Brody and the owners chose to save the building.

“The house has sunk about 25 feet and 10 feet to the west. If they can salvage that … I would be first of all surprised and second of all horrified,” said Brodeur, who years ago protested the construction of 606 Larchmont because he feared slides.

Brody said he hopes to jack up the house and build a new foundation under it, though he’s still weighing his financial choices.

San Mateo County officials are exploring whether they can help the displaced residents with longer-term temporary housing. Their Red Cross assistance has expired, so the county government is using state emergency funds to pay their hotel bills, officials said.

kwilliamson@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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