Santa Barbara County knew mudslides were a risk. It did little to stop them


During severe winter storms, Cold Springs Creek above Montecito turns into a torrent of mud, uprooted trees and shed-size boulders as it drains three square miles of sheer mountain front. The only thing protecting the people, homes and businesses below is a low dam that the Army Corps of Engineers built in 1964 at the mouth of the creek’s canyon, forming a basin between the steep banks to catch the crashing debris. Over the decades, the basin filled up with sediment and grew thick with brush and trees.

Megan Miley