California Subdivision Mysteriously Sinks Away

Eight homes abandoned, 10 more soon to follow

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 11, 2013 3:47 PM CDT | Updated May 11, 2013 8:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Scott and Robin Spivey had a sinking feeling that something was wrong with their home when cracks began snaking across their walls in March. The cracks soon turned into gaping fractures, and within two weeks their 600-square-foot garage broke from the house and the entire property dropped 10 feet below the street. It wasn't long before the houses on both sides collapsed as the ground gave way in the Spiveys' neighborhood in Lake County, about 100 miles north of San Francisco.

Eight homes are now abandoned and 10 more are under notice of imminent evacuation as a hilltop with sweeping vistas of Clear Lake and the Mount Konocti volcano swallows the subdivision built 30 years ago. Officials believe water that has bubbled to the surface is playing a role in the destruction. But nobody can explain why suddenly there is plentiful water atop the hill in a county with groundwater shortages. "That's the big question," says the county public works director. "We have a dormant volcano, and I'm certain a lot of things that happen here (in Lake County) are a result of that, but we don't know about this."

The bedroom carpets hang from the home of Jagtar Singh, left, after the ground gave way in Lakeport, Calif.
The bedroom carpets hang from the home of Jagtar Singh, left, after the ground gave way in Lakeport, Calif.   (Rich Pedroncelli)
This photo shows the wreckage of the Tudor-style dream home of Robin and Scott Spivey in Lakeport, Calif.
This photo shows the wreckage of the Tudor-style dream home of Robin and Scott Spivey in Lakeport, Calif.   (Rich Pedroncelli)
Jagtar Singh gazes from the doorway of one of the bedrooms that collapsed.
Jagtar Singh gazes from the doorway of one of the bedrooms that collapsed.   (Rich Pedroncelli)
Jagtar Singh is comforted by neighbor Blanka Doren in the living room of the home he was forced to vacate in Lakeport, Calif.
Jagtar Singh is comforted by neighbor Blanka Doren in the living room of the home he was forced to vacate in Lakeport, Calif.   (Rich Pedroncelli)
Randall Fitzgerald checks a fissure that has opened in a lot near his home in the Lakeside Heights subdivision in Lakeport, Calif.
Randall Fitzgerald checks a fissure that has opened in a lot near his home in the Lakeside Heights subdivision in Lakeport, Calif.   (Rich Pedroncelli)
A notice by the U.S. Postal Service warned residents of the Lakeside Heights subdivision that postal workers would no longer deliver mail.
A notice by the U.S. Postal Service warned residents of the Lakeside Heights subdivision that postal workers would no longer deliver mail.   (Rich Pedroncelli)
Robin and Scott Spivey walk past the wreckage of their home.
Robin and Scott Spivey walk past the wreckage of their home.   (Rich Pedroncelli)
A crack is seen in the wall of  the home of Jagtar Singh in Lakeport, Calif.
A crack is seen in the wall of the home of Jagtar Singh in Lakeport, Calif.   (Rich Pedroncelli)
Janice and Mike Kropa walk past the empty homes of their neighbors in the Lakeside Heights subdivision in Lakeport, Calif.
Janice and Mike Kropa walk past the empty homes of their neighbors in the Lakeside Heights subdivision in Lakeport, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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