Shifting Hillside Leaves Homes Red-Tagged

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NEVADA CITY -- Nevada County building inspectors placed red tags at the doors of several homes along Pasquale Road in the Cascade Shores area, a few miles from Nevada City, because they are too dangerous to be inhabited.

A week ago there were signs that the hillside behind the houses was giving way.

Residents found doors could no longer be closed into door frames, mysterious plumbing leaks and pens that started rolling across tables. On Monday cracks in the foundations and concrete work could be seen, and framing was separated from foundations.

Evelyn Waller left several days ago but was back on Monday making what she thought was a last trip to gather her belongings when her rental house was "red tagged."

She was glad to find out that the red tag still allowed her to come back to get belongings, even though she was prohibited from living in her home. She is now staying in a motel.

"We're sort of in limbo for the next week until we figure out what's happening," she said.

Nicholas McBurney, a Nevada County planning examiner, said engineers are monitoring the size of the cracks.

"These houses aren't in danger of imminent collapse but we do ask that they disconnect the utilities and move out until we further assess," said McBurney.

McBurney said the steep hillside is the product of hydraulic mining and weeks of rain contributed to the instability.

PG&E crews were disconnecting power lines from the red tagged homes.

McBurney says it could be summer before the sliding earth can be reassessed to see if the houses can be cleared for inhabitants or can be repaired.