Neighbors on Pacifica cliff ask City Council for help

January 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
People living near the Pacifica apartments on the edge of a cliff, are worried they could suffer the same fate and they want immediate help. Condo owners are afraid that erosion will soon have them perched precariously on the cliff as well. So, on Monday night residents asked City Council for some help.

It is not cheap to shore up a cliff. When it is all said and done, it will cost some condo owners millions of dollars. It's an amount some condo owners say demand some kind of government help.

As the work goes on to shore up the crumbling Pacifica cliff, residents of the Pacific View Villas, a few hundred yards north, are watching closely. They too know they will likely have to take drastic measures to keep their homes from teetering on the edge. The cliff in front of their condominiums has dropped off up to 15 feet over the past few weeks.

Steve Glomstad paid $600,000 for his two-bedroom condo.

"I have a lot of anxiety, but I love the area. I mean, look at the view here. It's priceless, but I'm hoping somebody can step in and help us out," said Glomstad.

Monday night, those condo owners showed up before the Pacifica City Council, pleading for some kind of financial help. They say, they alone, cannot afford the type of massive project that is now underway to save the apartments south of them along Esplanade Avenue.

That is where crews are preparing to build a concrete wall to cover the crumbling sandstone and prevent future erosion.

When asked when this type of project becomes cost prohibitive, Tony Fortunato from Engineered Soil Repairs replied, "I think when the owner says 'no more.' Right now, he wants to save the building."

Regardless, when it comes to the government helping out on this project or others in the future, there is not much the city can do.

Monday, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, came to see the erosion first hand and says the feds at this point, cannot do much either.

"FEMA cannot provide aid when there's a pre-existing condition. There also has to be a state of emergency that has to be declared at the local, state and federal level -- none of which has occurred here," said Speier.

A state of emergency has not been declared because the developments that have unfolded so far do not meet the criteria. Not enough people have been displaced, for instance. However, Speier and city leaders are not giving up. They plan to meet again to see if there is a way to work around those restrictions.