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Torrance Expansive Soils Area Information

TORRANCE SOIL AREA HISTORY


You may have heard about the “Expansive Soil Area” of Torrance. The “Soil Area” is most commonly referring to the area in south Torrance bounded by Lomita Blvd. on the north, Hawthorne Blvd. on the east, Pacific Coast Highway on the south, and South High School and Anza Ave., on the west. Although there are many expansive soil areas located in the South Bay, this area is a bit more famous!

Prior to homes being built in south Torrance, the area identified above was considered a swamp land, called Walteria Lake. In the early 1960s when homes began to be built, Don Wilson the builder of the homes brought in soil to fill in and raise the swampland to build the homes. Probably a cost-cutting measure, Mr. Wilson unfortunately brought in adobe soil to fill in the area. Adobe soil is known for its expansion and contraction properties.

As soon as new owners moved into the new homes, they began to experience movement in the homes and cracks in the walls. Some homes were (and still are) affected more than others. Complaints to the city and lawsuits entailed, however, there was no recourse for the owners.  Up until about the mid 1990s, the area was plagued with the “soil area” stigma and that kept home values depressed relative to the surrounding homes in the area. As the original homeowners moved out, the new buyers realized the homes were not that bad and the area they were located in was excellent for living and raising children.

Even to this day, the “soil area” stigma exists, however, primarily with those people who do not understand or don’t have the knowledge of the area. Many Realtors choose not to sell homes in the area or give incorrect advice to their clients, both buyers and sellers! Frank Kenny has extensive experience with the soil area and will help you understand the area. And, you should know that there are expansive soil areas throughout the South Bay. The reason this area is so well known is that the soil here is not naturally occurring as the other areas are. The soil here was trucked in!

I’ve had the good fortune of growing up and still living in the “soil area” and fully understand the condition of the soil and the homes in this beautiful neighborhood. In fact, I sell most of the homes in the neighborhood and also offer guidance to other Realtors that have buyers buying in the neighborhood. I’ve done much research regarding the area and having sold many of the homes here I am able to properly and professionally guide buyers and sellers in the sale process.

TORRANCE SOIL AREA GUIDELINES


First, not all homes in the area have soil issues! However, like any expansive soil area home, there are several guidelines you will want to follow to ensure your current or future home incurs as little damage as possible over the years. Damage occurs when the soil transitions back and forth between dry and wet, contracting and expanding. This takes a toll on the foundation, which leads to foundation problems and cracks in walls as well as uneven floors, etc. Those homes that you see that are in really bad shape generally were not taken care of by a previous owner. Like anything else, it’s a good idea to maintain the house in a generally good condition and take the steps necessary to do so.

Proper drainage around your property is a must! After a significant rainfall, check to see if you have water ponding around your home. If you do, take steps to eliminate the ponding.
a. Install drainage pipes or culverts to drain water in the yard out to the street. This may not be inexpensive, however, it’s cheaper than repairing your foundation.
b. Install gutters at the roof to take any water from your roof out to the street.
c. Install sprinklers in the yard and run them to keep the soil in the yard at a consistent moisture level. This will minimize any expansion and contraction of the soil.
d. Monitor your water bill and if you see a sudden increase this could mean you have a leak in the soil or under the house. Get it repaired immediately.
e. Avoid planting trees or large bushes next to your house. Best to keep them at least 10’ feet away, although further is better.
f. Eliminate any planter areas next to your foundation. These tend to let water wick into your stucco or around your foundation.
g. Pour a concrete perimeter around your home, much like a sidewalk all the way around your home. This will help keep water away from the foundation.

Having lived in the Torrance “soil area” for most of my life I have the unique ability to guide homeowners, buyers and sellers regarding the soil condition and the homes. I have collected documents that have been sent out by the city regarding the area and created a package of information that we provide to every home buyer as a disclosure so they are a little more knowledgeable about the soil conditions.

The bottom line is, the south Torrance area, even with the soil condition, is a very desirable place to live with great neighbors, excellent schools, lots of restaurants and shopping, and near perfect weather! The homes here sell for top dollar and retain their value. You would be proud living in this neighborhood!

For more information or guidance, please contact Frank Kenny, Realtor, at 310-791-0123 or email to Frank@FrankKenny.com

Here is a link to the City of Torrance soil area guidelines:
https://www.torranceca.gov/our-city/community-development/building/soil-guidelines

Here is a link to a MAP for the boundaries of the Torrance Expansive Soil Area:
https://www.torranceca.gov/home/showdocument?id=3104

Here is a very useful link to Living in the Expansive Soils Area of Torrance:
https://www.torranceca.gov/home/showdocument?id=3116