Extra crane brought in to repair crumbling cliff

December 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Workers in Pacifica brought in extra help to try and stop an apartment building from slipping off a cliff. They are now using two cranes at the same time in an effort to secure the crumbling coastline.

Boulders were loaded into a bucket then slowly lowered onto the beach by crane. The rocks are supposed to stop the bluff from eroding, but the murky water is proof the soil is quickly slipping away.

"It's a battle," says engineer Tony Fortuna. "It's definitely a battle."

It is a challenge just to keep up. The cranes cannot move any faster because of the wind. In fact, the high tides and surf forced the two workers who were supposed to be on the beach to guide the crane operator by radio, to move to higher ground. From there, they watch the buckets movements and rock placement.

"It's windy and it's dangerous. You've got to be careful. We don't want to lose life over this. We're trying to save a building and save the bluff safely," says Fortunato.

On Thursday, a 30-foot chunk of the cliff fell into the ocean, forcing city inspectors to evacuate 18 people from 330 Esplanade. The apartment building is now red-tagged and deemed unsafe. Six of the 18 evacuees are staying close. They decided to move in right next door. Some plan to move back to 330 Esplanade if possible.

"I feel really bad for the people that live here and a lot of residents have been there a long time," resident Pam Peterson told ABC7. "I feel really bad. I personally wouldn't want to move back in. I know they were given the option to move back in. I wouldn't do it."

John Elworth was not an evacuee, but he is still choosing to leave.

"We're just moving out just in case. We're getting ready to go just in case. And, we're looking for a new place," he said.

All of the apartment complex owners hope the re-enforcements will help. Many applied for permits to do this work two years ago. The Coastal Commission only gave its final approval this month. Contractors expect to finish their work by Christmas.

Then, it is up to the city to decide if and when evacuees can move back in.


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