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Copyright 2014 Orange County Register
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Orange County Register (California)
By JEREMY BALAN, Staff Writer

Contreras Learning Complex, a high school in downtown Los Angeles, has moved all of its home track and field meets off campus this season because of a small sinkhole on the north end of its clay track.

After heavy rains in mid-March, a small fissure developed on the track, forcing Contreras athletic director Ernesto Castro to move the school's home meets to Belmont High, which is less than a quarter-mile away.

"A day after the first heavy rains hit in March, we started noticing cracks (in the track)," Castro said. "The track is out of commission."

Hollywood High, which is going through construction on its on-campus track, also had to move two meets it had scheduled at Contreras.

Although the track cannot facilitate a full meet, Contreras' track and field team is able to continue practicing at its on-campus facility, and the turf field the track surrounds is not impacted.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is evaluating the sinkhole, which is about 1 inch wide and 8 inches deep, according to Robert Laughton, the district's deputy director of maintenance and operations.

Laughton said it was too early to estimate a how long it will take for repairs because the district is still evaluating the fissure.

"Our engineering team is investigating," Laughton said. "They are evaluating and reviewing (the issue) and may call in specialists to find out why it happened and the scope of the fix."

Although it is technically a small-subsidence sinkhole, Laughton stressed that the fissure at Contreras isn't the same as what people have seen happen in states such as Florida, where large sinkholes have appeared and swallowed entire houses.

"It's the same principle, where water washes soil away," he said, "but it's not what people think, when you see photos of houses getting caught up in a sinkhole on the Internet."


April 17, 2014




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