Video: Pacifica apartments at risk of falling off cliff set for demolition

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2016 file photo, boulders shore up an eroding cliff below an apartment complex that residents were forced to evacuate, at top left, in Pacifica, Calif. Living with the Pacific Ocean as your backyard has its benefits. But the crumbling ocean cliffs have forced dozens to move quickly and at a high cost. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)


PACIFICA (BCN) — An apartment building at risk of falling off a cliff and onto a beach below in Pacifica is scheduled to be demolished starting Tuesday, city officials announced.

A fence will go up around the building at 320 Esplanade Ave. on Monday because of the threat to public safety and the environment.

The building was built in the 1960s and is made partly of hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead. Beachgoers are at risk of being hit by debris from above.

“We want to get ahead of it,” City Manager and Director of Emergency Management Lorie Tinfow said.

It’s pretty unusual for public money to be used to demolish a privately owned building, Tinfow said. But the threat to the public and the environment is high and the owner cannot or will not take responsibility for the building.

Should the building fall to the beach, the cost to clean up the remains would be 10 to 20 times the cost of demolition, Tinfow said. The cleanup would involve using cranes to remove debris from the beach 80 feet below the top of the cliff.

Tinfow said the estimated cost to demolish the building is $200,000.

Storm-driven coastal erosion prompted city officials to mark the 20-unit building as uninhabitable in 2010. Storms this year in January prompted city officials to also mark 310 Esplanade Ave. as unsafe for living and evacuated the residents.

City staff is helping the residents find housing, according to city officials.

Last month a 12-unit building at 330 Esplanade Ave. was demolished. That building faced the same risk as 320 Esplanade Ave.

Tinfow said Esplanade Avenue is the next thing to be at risk from erosion if the city fails to shore up the cliff.

City officials are looking for money to do that. They have applied to the state and may get a decision any day, Tinfow said.

The owner of Lands End Apartment Homes at 100 Esplanade Ave. in Pacifica sprayed concrete onto the bluffs to shore them up and avoid what’s happened at 320 Esplanade Ave.

Tinfow said she heard the work cost $9 million, but the cost to protect Esplanade Avenue from erosion may be less.

The city also wants to place large boulders at the base of the cliff to reduce or stop erosion from waves.

Tinfow said that has been effective in other locations.

Because of this year’s January storms, the city declared a state of emergency on Jan. 22.

The January storms caused $3.5 million in damage to the city’s seawall and promenade along Beach Boulevard. The storms also damaged the Pacifica Pier and did other damage, Tinfow said.

City officials are seeking help from the federal government as well as the state.

The demolition is expected to take about four-to-five days to complete.

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