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3 multimillion-dollar mansions are at risk of sliding into the Pacific

california erosion 2

Three mansions worth $12 million to $16 million in California are at risk of falling into the ocean after a post-storm landslide eroded cliffs in Dana Point. The story has sparked conversations about climate change and rising home insurance costs in the state.

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Three California homeowners are living on the edge after a landslide eroded the Orange County cliff supporting their multimillion-dollar homes.

Local news station ABC Los Angeles 7 broke the news on Monday after one of its helicopter pilots noticed several mansions dangerously close to falling off the cliff that lines Dana Point’s Scenic Drive. The station said the Orange County Fire Authority hadn’t received any calls about the incident until ABC7 called for comment.

Meanwhile, Dana Point City Manager Mike Killebrew told ABC7 and several other stations the homes — which cost $16 million, $13 million and $12.8 million respectively — are secure, despite several videos that seem to show otherwise.

“The city’s geotechnical engineer and a building sector went out the site to assess the situation, as well as talk with the homeowner who owns the residence and slope where the failure occurred,” Killebrew said. “Currently the city has confirmed that there is no imminent threat to that home.”

One homeowner told CBS KCAL he hadn’t received an evacuation notice; however, he didn’t clarify if he’d continue to stay in the home. “The house is fine. It’s not threatened,” Dr. Lewis Bruggeman said. “It will not be red-tagged.”

Although Bruggeman seemed to be confident in the City’s assessment of his home, other owners in the area feared another round of heavy rainstorms projected to hit Southern California over the weekend would bring disastrous consequences.

“I would be concerned if I lived in one of those homes,” Dana Point resident Jan Cocchiara told ABC7. “I don’t know if it’s because of all the development that the hill’s been compromised.”

“I’m not an engineer,” they said. “I don’t know what needs to be done [to stop the erosion], but apparently something is going to happen. I guess we’ll find out.”

The imperiled mansions have gone viral on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, with more than 22 million users viewing ABC7’s video of the eroding hillside. While some commenters sent well-wishes, most people used their 280 characters to lambast the homeowners for paying millions to live on a cliff and theorize when “the big one” will send coastal California wading into the Pacific.

“My dad was from Long Beach [and] was a structural engineer,” wrote user @auntieamy90. “He warned people about building on what he called ‘greasy banks’ & this was back in the 70’s.”

Another swath of users lamented about the number of insurers leaving the state and what incidents like these mean for homeowners without millions in the bank.

“California will be cash only soon once the cost of property insurance makes mortgages impossible,” user @TonyBennett said.

The nation’s largest insurance companies have spent the past two years retreating from California homeowners, citing heightened climate risks and state regulations for the refusal to issue new policies. American International Group (AIG) and Chubb were among the first to begin sunsetting their coverage plans in 2022, followed by State Farm, Allstate, Farmers and AAA in 2023.

“It’s going to be a huge problem going forward with affecting affordability and desirability,” Chino-based Century 21 Select broker Shelinda Bryant told Inman last August. “Worse than that, you’re not only paying more money to have the insurance, the insurance you have is worse. It’s like you’re paying more for less. If something goes wrong, you have just a lot less coverage for everything.”

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