Erosion causing new concerns at Pacifica cliff

January 13, 2010 5:33:09 PM PST
High waves have pounded the cliffside beneath Esplanade Avenue in Pacifica and while the apartments above are still standing, in some places they cling ever more precariously.

It seems as if the worries there never end. The good news is that the apartments are still there. The bad news is that some of the apartments are in an even more precarious situation than they were before.

The ocean views are creeping closer by the day. Small sections of deck fell from beneath the apartments again Wednesday morning, but "small" becomes "significant" with so little land remaining.

In Pacifica Wednesday, it was all about the scenery and not just the pounding surf or the people who came out to watch it. But, it was also about the wear and tear of that surf on the cliff, the apartments being threatened, and the people who still live in the area.

"First we weren't that worried because we felt we were 20, 40 feet from the cliff, even if it gets closer to the ones next door. But, now we're getting a little bit insecure," said engineer Steve O'Connor.

"I used to live on the end building and last April we lost about 25 feet. So, I moved here," said Kim Zimmerman.

The biggest news Wednesday was that work crews moved their operation a few hundred feet to the north. They turned the key and slowly drove a 165-ton, 240-foot tall crane to an unprotected section of bluff and prepared to place more boulders below.

"The problem is that the shoreline is eroding," O'Connor explained.

"Basically, we're being proactive this time instead of reactive," supervisor Tony Fortunato told ABC7.

They are also being figurative, not literal, in a place where they hope the sign displaying "Land's End" does not become prophetic. Now, property owners are talking about building a permanent seawall. The project might take months. The prospect of that leaves remaining residents feeling less than magnanimous.

"We moved here for the view and not the construction. It's to the point now where, I have two little dogs, that every time a bolder drops, they howl, they scream," one resident said.

"It's a marathon, a rock marathon," described one crew member. "We're trying to put more rock down to save this bluff."

Many of the residents who remain are so upset they are looking for apartments somewhere else or planning to ask for rent reductions.