Crumbling cliff causes evacuations in Pacifica

January 21, 2010 12:36:50 PM PST
Apartment units at 320 Esplanade Avenue in Pacifica are being evacuated.

The evacuations began at 5:00 Thursday morning when a section of bluff behind the apartment building fell into the ocean -- taking with it the railing on some people's porches and carrying away their peace of mind.

The stunning ocean view is still there in the back of 320 Esplanade Avenue, but the bluff that was there is gone. And also gone is the railing at Rick Jenkins back patio.

"Terrifying, purely terrifying -- because when you look out the window and all you see is a patio, it's an 80 foot drop and there is nothing there to protect you," said Jenkins.

It's the very same type of event that happened right next door at 330 Esplanade last month.

"The bluff broke off, similar to the condition at 330, and it came up even with the patios over here about three units down this direction, and it straight up and down right at the back side of the building," said Pacifica building inspector Doug Rider.

So residents from 320 Esplanade are forced to move out and most of them are moving right next door to 310, a building owned by the same landlord. It's still got some cliff left behind it, but how to stop the erosion is a tall order; placing more boulders down at the base of the bluff to slow the erosion is the short term solution that they've been implementing for weeks.

"It is going to be different this time with more rock?" asked ABC7's Terry McSweeney.

"We are being reactive again, right now I don't know. We are going to have to see how the wave action is out there today," said Tony Fortunato of Engineer Soil Repair.

Evacuees are grateful to the landlord that he's offering the apartments next door. Some don't plan to be there very long.

"I'm sure I'll be looking for a place high up on the hill on solid rock," said evacuee Betty Sue Lukins.

"How long until you think you will have that kind of place?" asked McSweeney.

"I am looking right now," said Lukins.