Calif Homes Sinking On Sleeping Volcano Site But Insurers Might Not Pay

Calif. homes are sinking in the Lakeside Heights subdivision in Lakeport, situated in scenic Lake County northern California countryside that was once a dream but is now a disaster. On Friday, county workers struggled to repair a leak in a water line that may have contributed to the ongoing slow-motion disaster which has already resulted in eight homes being abandoned.

A hearing coming up early this week may answer more questions about just what happened — and who will pay.

One homeowner, Scott Spivey, said that he and his wife were given 48 hours to clear out of their home of 11 years in March. Himself a building inspector, Spivey is furious because his insurance company won’t pay for what they say is a natural sinkhole disaster.

“This wasn’t a natural thing,” he told the Lake County News. “There’s something going on there.”

“That’s the big question,” Lake County public works director Scott De Leon has acknowledged.

True, the sinking Calif. homes are built on a dormant volcano, with the attendant risk of landslides and sinkholes — but other nearby homes built on the same soil haven’t experienced the problem. And it’s particularly odd that the problem should suddenly get so serious this year, when the county is actually experiencing groundwater shortages.

In Lakeside Heights, the situation is so dire that mail service has actually been stopped so that the mail carrier won’t be in danger of being swallowed by a sinkhole.

And it isn’t just a theoretical debate about the underlying causes. There’s money and people’s ability to replace their homes at stake.

In California, homeowners have to buy separate insurance to cover sinkhole damage. Regular homeowner’s insurance won’t cover it.

Last week, homeowners asked Gov. Jerry Brown to declare the 30 house neighborhood an emergency site, since it may well have to be completely abandoned.

On Tuesday, they will meet again to evaluate their options for replacing the Calif. sinking homes.

[KY sinkhole photo by Rob Melendez via FEMA and Wikimedia Commons]

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