The London Road Landslide (called the Wilshire Heights Landslide at the time, for a nearby development) took place in the winter of 1969 - 1970. It eventually destroyed 17 homes, and a section of London Road below the Mormon Temple. It is the largest landslide in Oakland.
The damage could have been much worse; a 10" pipeline carrying jet fuel from the Shell refinery in Martinez to the Oakland Airport ran through the area. An Oakland Fire Marshal ordered the pipeline shut down until the situation was resolved.
The slide was caused in part because of the proximity to the Hayward Fault. Movement fractured sub-surface rocks, and then heavy rains lubricated it, accelerating the movement. Approximately 3 acres of land was directly affected by the slow-moving slide. 2
In December 1971 the city came up with an $859,400 plan to halt the slide. About $100,000 of that was allocated to purchase 4 homes that had survived the initial slide, but would be undermined by the construction of "Method E". Shell was anxious to re-open the pipeline, but the fire marshal wouldn't grant a permit for the pipeline across an active slide, and the city wouldn't grant a variance to allow a new alignment. 3
The pipeline was supposedly emptied, but some jet fuel did leak into Peralta Creek. 5
Neighbors in Piedmont Pines fought the reactivation of the pipeline. Shell also proposed a new alignment running along Lincoln Avenue. Shell was unable to renew their franchise with the city of Oakland in 1985, and decommissioned the pipeline. 1
Links and References
- Landslide Perils Homes in Oakland Oakland Tribune January 19, 1970
- The Fuel Line Bombing and Canyon Fire of 1969 on patch.com
- Deep in Canyon, part 2 East Bay Yesterday podcast, April 2019 (more about the pipeline)
- The Landslides of London Road OaklandGeology.com
- Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association History
- Slides Continue in Oakland Hills Fremont Argus January 19, 1970
- $859,400 Plan to Halt Slide Oakland Tribune December 1, 1971 (p2,p3)
- Hillside Shifting Continues Oakland Tribune February 22, 1970
- Slide Splits Big Pipe--Oil in Creek Oakland Tribune February 16, 1970