Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts

Abalone Cove landslide
Photo: Abalone Cove landslide, Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Angeles County. The toe of the landslide is at the shoreline. The Abalone Cove Landslide Abatement District was formed in January 1981, and was the first district formed after the Beverly Act of 1979. Photo by Martin L. Stout.

by Robert B. Olshansky (Original reference: Olshansky, Robert B., 1986, Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts: CALIFORNIA GEOLOGY, v. 39, n. 7, p. 158-159.)

For up-to-date information, visit the California Association of GHADs.


Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts (GHADs) enabled by the Beverly Act of 1979 (SB 1195), are useful financial mechanisms for reducing hillslope hazards (Kockelman, 1986). The enabling statute, (Division 17 of the Public Resources Code, Sections 26500 - 26654) provides for the formation of local assessment districts for the purpose of prevention, mitigation, abatement, or control of geologic hazards. The Act broadly defines "geologic hazard" as "an actual or threatened landslide, land subsidence, soil erosion, earthquake, or any other natural or unnatural movement of land or earth."​

GHAD Requirements​​

A GHAD may be proposed by one of two means: (1) a petition signed by owners of at least 10 percent of the real property in the district, or (2) by resolution of a local legislative body. A proposal for a GHAD must be accompanied by a "plan of control", prepared by a certified engineering geologist, "which describes in detail a geologic hazard, its location and the area affected thereby, and a plan for the prevention, mitigation, abatement, or control thereof" (Section 26509). The land within a district need not be contiguous; the only requirement is that lands within a GHAD be specially benefited by the proposed construction and that formation of a district is required to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the residents.

The Act requires public hearings prior to district formation. If owners of more than 50 percent of the assessed valuation of the proposed district object to the formation, the legislative body must abandon the proceedings. If there are few objections, the legislative body may form the district, initially appointing five property owners to the board of directors. Thereafter, the district becomes an independent entity with an elected board of directors. A GHAD may issue bonds, purchase and dispose of property, acquire property by eminent domain, levy and collect assessments, sue and be sued, and construct and maintain improvements.


The Geologic Hazard Abatement District is a potentially useful tool to effectively abate a landslide hazard that crosses property boundaries. It is a mechanism that responds to the physical realities of landslides, and allows property owners to cooperate in solving a common problem. It removes much of the stigma of legal liabilities among adjacent landowners and allows them to cooperate rather than litigate. It also provides for a cost-effective solution, requiring only one geotechnical engineering firm and one plan to solve the problems of several landowners.


  • Detwiler, P.M., 1985, Senate Committee on Local Government, letter to author regarding Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts (August, 1, 1985).
  • Ehlig, P.L., 1979, Final Report, Geotechnical investigation of Abalone Cove landslide, Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Angeles County, California: Robert Stone & Associates, Canoga Park, California, unpublished report, prepared for City of Rancho Palos Verdes, job no. 1372-00, doted February 28, 1979, 3 plates, 4 appendices, 54 p.
  • Ehlig, P.L., 1982, Results of subsurface geologic investigation-recommendations concerning Klondike Canyon landslide and moratorium boundary: Robert Stone & Associates, Canoga Pork, California, unpublished report prepared for City of Rancho Palos Verdes, job no. 1840-00, dated January 21, 1982, 3 plates, 14 p.
  • Heffler, R., 1981, State's first slide district forms: Los Angeles Times, January 8, 1981, p. IX-1.
  • Kockelmon, W.J., 1986, Some techniques of reducing landslide hazards: Bulletin of the Association of Engineering Geologists, v. 23, no. 1, p. 29-50.
  • Lung, Richard, 1981, Mount Washington Geologic Hazard Abatement District, Geotechnical Investigation Report: Leighton and Associates, Irvine, California, unpublished consulting report prepared for the Department of Building and Safety of the City of Los Angeles, report no. 1800632-01, dated July 15, 1981, 6 plates, 4 appendices, 36 p.
  • Proctor, R.J., 1985, Plan of control for Canyon Lakes Geologic Hazard Abatement District, Contra Costa County, May 2, 1985.