|La Conchita was once a thriving residential town
on the east side of Highway 101 across from La Conchita-Seacliff
Beach and Mussel Shoals. Located north of Ventura with
its nearest city, Carpinteria just a five or ten minute drive away
(to the north), the hamlet consists of several streets and a gas
station/ general store. A railroad track separates residents from
the highway and aside from the regularly scheduled views of passing
trains, they enjoy the blue Pacific out the windows and doors of
On January 10, 2005, La Conchita, California experienced a landslide and debris flow,
the second in less than ten years (the first was in the spring of
1995.) 10 people were killed in this tragic event and homes lost in
the 156-home community. Suffering the loss of their family members
were Jimmie Wallets and his daughter Jasmine.
The landslide occurred on a less than normal day.
There were rains the night before and a tornado watch in the
morning. Highway 101 was closed, and residents were unable to leave
La Conchita, though they could walk across the highway to the beach.
They planned a barbecue that day and some like Jimmie Wallets and
his family planned to go treasure-hunting on the beach -- looking
for arrowheads that might have washed ashore. Jimmy left home for a
few minutes to buy ice cream treats for the kids at the corner
store. He wanted to give the kids a treat while he and Michelle
packed belongings in case they decided to leave.
The market was closed, and as Jimmie talked with neighbors about
what they would barbecue, the hills came crashing down. Mud flowed
from the hill above onto houses, trailers and cars. The mud hit a
retaining wall, formed a "y" and rolled straight for Wallet's house.
He ran toward the home approximately 60 feet away and the flow
stopped just yards in front of him. He did not know it at the time,
but mud pushed his home across the street. A tree fell, hit his
house and split the structure in two. Jimmie ran to the spot where
his house stood just seconds before. Instead, there was a 30-foot
pile of mud. Nothing but mud.
Landslide in 1995: Many people were
evacuated because of the slide and the houses nearest the slide were
completely destroyed. Fortunately, no one was killed or injured. The
town was not so fortunate the second time around, however, when a
second landslide destroyed the town serenity and
Before January 10, 2005: Things which previously
put this community on the map were a banana farm where travelers
used to stop (gone now). So unique to California was the banana
tasting cabana, it appeared in international magazines. Its
other less appealing claim to fame was a shuffling of the mountain
behind town which caused the collapse of several houses buried in
rocks and dirt. As you zoom by on the 101, you can still see the
remains of at least one of the houses.
Property values were greatly reduced in this bit
of paradise after that sad occurrence several years ago. By all
other appearances, not much has changed. Trucks parked on streets
testify to the rugged character of the community, just down the road
from Mobil Rincon On Shore Facility.