La Cañada Flintridge homeowners may hate them, but the barriers that have lined hillside streets since the 2009 Station fire aren't going away any time soon.
Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service visited four La Cañada neighborhoods on May 8 to weigh the risks of removing the barriers, known as K-rails. The verdict: Loose dirt and a dearth of deeply rooted shrubbery in burn areas make for a continued threat of mud and debris flows during heavy rains — meaning the curbside fortifications must stay put for another year or longer.
“On this thin soil and these steep slopes, you need to give it some more time for native species to take hold. I'd say we're not quite there yet,” said John Harrington, the agency's state conservation engineer for California.
The news is disappointing for many homeowners but should not come as a shock in areas where walls of mud and rock overwhelmed streets, flooded yards and invaded more than two dozen homes in February 2010.