Hello world; look at this

Serpentinite at Crestmont and Butters

I’ll launch this blog with the scene that inspired it: an outcrop of serpentinite on Crestmont Drive near Butters. It depicts the failure of city planners to acknowledge the geology of the Oakland Hills. First, Crestmont was laid out with a roadcut into this rotten stone—actually it’s beautiful, but it’s crumbly—with no allowance for its deterioration. Then the house above it was allowed to be built without ensuring that the slope would be undisturbed. To the right of this view is a bare scree slope, spilling rock debris onto Crestmont. This site is a nonstop disaster that will be repaired, shored up, repaved and regraded for the foreseeable future.

Oakland needs more awareness of the ground it lies upon.

6 Responses to “Hello world; look at this”

  1. Andrew Alden Says:

    That must be the same house up above. Construction takes a long time, and I don’t always trust Zillow. The scree slope on the right side was quite narrow.

    My initial reaction, back in 2007, was correct: the Crestmont development is prone to landslides, and serpentine rock requires special care when building. I’ve returned to this spot at least four times since I took this photo, and each time there’s been a new buildup of rubble. Every steep roadcut does this.

    To your point, a custom house built in 2005 is far better than a tract home built in 1957.

  2. Mark R. Kelly Says:

    Hello– I’ve just discovered your blog via a Facebook post about the Lincoln Square landslide. I found your “Hello world, look at this” post. I live just to the right of that pic — at 135 Crestmont, the northern most house of the four built in 2005. I’m a bit confused about your dates; the big house up on Skyline was built in 2010, according to Zillow. Your 2007 pic, was that showing an earlier house at the top of the hill? And my house was built in 2005, so it should have been there if you took a pic in 2007. And yet you say “To the right of this view is a bare scree slope.”

    More to the point, you say “This site is a nonstop disaster”… I’ve been thinking, since we moved in here in early 2015, that the house is on bedrock and so will be relatively stable when the big Hayward Fault earthquake eventually hits. (Unlike my Northridge house, in 1994, which had substantial damage.)

  3. Farmlady Says:

    Your blog is really interesting. I have a son who lives in the Oakland hills and a cousin who lives in Berkeley, near the stadium, on Panorama. I will pass our blog along to them. I believe you need to face your fears. Geology is the center of reality in this world. Keep taking photos.

  4. Darby Says:

    You don’t need to go to the hills to find serious erosion and tectonic movement. Take a look at the poor homeowners on 14th Avenue below 580 (near Highland Hospital), Wallace St buildings are toppling into the backyards of 14th Ave residents.

  5. Andrew Says:

    That’s a good perspective. We humans aren’t much better at planning than the other animals. But we should try.

    Like your blog, BTW.

  6. Ken Clark Says:

    Id like to say that that is a localized phenomina, but ive seen such a mishmash of planning from oakland to cloverdale up the 101, and on across to clear lake (I’m a geologist and spend some time in the Geysers geothermal area), that whole area has masses of serpentine outcropped, in someplaces, some of the back roads get bull dozed at least once a month just to keep them passable, guess its just one of the cost for living or working in an area so beautiful

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