Oakland Hills resident vows to stay put despite mudslide on property

A mudslide in the Oakland Hills is threatening a home on Oak Hill Road.

Homeowner, Kevin Best, said the slide happened last Friday as he was sleeping. His dog woke him. "Just in time to see the entire hillside and trees, 40 to 50-year-old oak trees, just sliding down the hill," Best said amazed. "It was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen."

On Tuesday, a contractor that was surveying the property got stuck in mud and had to be rescued by firefighters. He was not injured. The man was one of many contractors on Best's property trying to find short-term solutions to keep a bad problem from getting worse.

All day Wednesday, crews worked to lay tarp and sandbags over the unstable hillside.

"If we stop the saturation, that can help us to at least stabilize the hillside a little bit," Best said.

At the same time, a worker from East Bay Municipal Utility District took water samples in an effort to pinpoint the source of the water feeding the slide. Preliminary tests indicate it's likely ground water, but drought may have played a role too.

Years of dry weather formed a compact, heavy layer of dry Earth.

"And when what it's sitting on turns to Jello or weak material," said structural engineer Jeff Fitch, "it slides down the hill just from gravity." Fitch said part of the hillside still "wants to move" and pilings from the house are helping hold it in place.

"No, it's not stable," Best said looking over the side of his deck. "Because the infrastructure has been compromised."

The home has been inspected and has no red or yellow tag to limit entry or living there.

Despite a daunting task to save his home, Best said he's not leaving, ever, and seemed to handle the situation with humor. "I'm talking a good game, but I have absolutely no clue how this thing is going to unfold," he said smiling broadly. "It's very scary."