Impending storm speeds cliff work in Pacifica

January 11, 2010 11:47:33 PM PST
The threat of an impending storm forced crews to take emergency action Monday at the base of a crumbling cliff in Pacifica. All the elements were in play including the ocean, the cliffs, bulldozers, boulders and a race against the clock that really amounted to a race against incoming waves.

The "lull before a storm" that passed through Pacifica Monday was actually quite loud. Crews dumped 500 tons of boulders there, bringing the total to 3,000 tons and counting, in what has become a marathon battle to shore up some crumbling cliffs before several apartments become part of the sea.

The worry is that Tuesday's weather may bring a battering 20-foot surf.

"If we have a high tide and large waves, it could hit the bluff again. We want to make sure that doesn't happen, so we're going to raise it up as high as we possibly can," Tony Fortunato with Engineered Soil Repairs told ABC7.

The work and the threat have left the Pacifica neighborhood in a state of flux and uncertainty. Even with tenants evacuated, the owners of the apartments have yet to firm up a long-term plan. The people left behind are not happy either.

"It's just loud. It starts early and goes late," resident Hudson Bunce says.

"Around the clock was fine for a few days for an emergency. They said it was an emergency. But it's been over a month," says neighbor Dierdre Lynds.

Lynds and Bunce both live in an apartment across the street. They play in a rock band, but the rock work has left them feeling like collateral damage.

"I sleep pretty hard. I am not someone who wakes up all the time," Lynds says. "This wakes me up. Whoa, what's happening?"

They moved to Pacifica for the sounds of the ocean but now they are dealing with the threat of the ocean.

The long-term fix engineers talk about would be an elaborate project, a sea wall in the ocean beneath all of the apartments. They are also considering drilling into the cliff and even possibly covering the area with concrete to prevent further erosion.

Crews planned to be finished with Monday's work by Monday evening, as long as the surf cooperated.