Paso Robles ready to fill in hole created by 2003 earthquake

March 21, 2010

After nearly seven years, the city of Paso Robles is finally ready to begin work on filling in its so-called “hole from hell,” the last grim souvenir from the earthquake of 2003. [Los Angeles Times]

The hole, 20 feet deep and 100 feet across, has taken up half the parking lot serving City Hall and the public library since tragedy struck on December 22, 2003.

The San Simeon earthquake killed two people downtown, damaged multiple buildings, and opened a fissure hundreds of feet below the parking lot. A foul smelling geyser erupted, harking back to the city’s history of hot springs, and the air has been tainted ever since.

City officials created a temporary fix by excavating the parking lot and pumping the sulfur into the dry Salinas River bed.

Filling in the damaged parking lot, scheduled to begin in April, will take six months to a year to complete and cost approximately $826,000.

The seven year odyssey to get to this point underscores the bureaucracy involved in the project: California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others, all had to give their official approval.