By John Ramos


OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — A lot of rain over a long period of time can affect any place in the Bay Area. But those living in the Oakland Hills have a special challenge.

It’s amazing what qualifies as real estate in the Oakland Hills. Some lots are steep enough to hang a hat on. So the fact that Johnny Robertson was house sitting on Monday at a home on a sheer cliff with a big storm coming in, had him a bit uneasy.

“When you look down this hill and there’s a storm coming what are you thinking?” I asked.

“Mudslides,” he said, “Everywhere! Nice to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here.”

In 2017, nearby Aitken Road was washed out and two homes were red-tagged as mud slid down the hill against the side of the houses. After the mud was cleaned up the residents were allowed back into their homes. But, to this day, their backyards are still covered in plastic tarps and the road is still closed. It’s been a stark reminder to their neighbors of what could happen to them.

“Well, just seeing the pictures of mud in people’s back walls and in through their doors,” said homeowner Sean Coffey, “That was kind of scary. You’re worrying about your house …um… ”

“You know, you pray it isn’t going to be that bad,” said his neighbor, Larry Cook, “But most of the time it’s … it’s not.”

And for a lot of residents in the hills, that’s what it is – a matter of faith.

“I think, well, they’re rolling the dice,” said one homeowner named Joe. He installed a plastic cover over the land above his house shortly before the Aitken mudslide. It’s been two years now and, unlike his neighbors, he decided to just leave it up.

“The thing is,” he said, “you could go 20, 30, 40 years without anything happening and, you never know … This could be your year.”

Caroline Warmsun understands that and has a little ritual each time it starts raining and she looks out at the sheer slope behind her home.

“I say to the hill, stay put … stay there,” she said, “You’ve been so good, just keep doing it!”

Still, people living in the Oakland Hills say they love it and it’s worth the uneasy feeling they may have on days when it rains.

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