VIDEO: Sinkhole closes beach access in Pacifica

Photo Credit: Janice Gin

PACIFICA (KRON) — The trail down to a popular beach in Pacifica is closed off Sunday night because of a giant sinkhole.

KRON4’s Spencer Blake was at the top of the bluff.

The sinkhole is about 15 yards across, but you can’t get any closer than the top of the trail, which is closed off for everyone’s safety.

Even if you were allowed to walk down the trail, you’d never make it to the stairs down to the beach. The gaping hole left just a shell of the switchback base.

KRON4 heard from a city councilor who says the city has been informed of the sinkhole and that it happened on private property. It is the responsibility of the owners of an apartment complex called Lands End Apartments on Esplanade Avenue, according to Pacifica City Manager Lori Tinfow.

Someone associated with the apartment complex blocked access to a trail that leads down to the beach and put a sign reading “beach access closed.” The city says the path was closed off because of erosion damage. The land under the apartments also has erosion damage, according to officials.

“They put up the sign and roped off the access to the beach over the weekend,” Tinfow said in a statement. “The City did not play a role in those activities.”

Those who live nearby posted photos and videos on social media sites of the sinkhole.

“I thought it was going to cave in off the front that it would undercut it and it would fall into the water, just like happens with the cliffs,” said resident Charley Goetchius.

Hand support rails dangle over the blackness. People who live in nearby apartments say it didn’t happen all at once, though.

“Where the stairs are, where that great big gigantic hole is, that was where it was just starting, and it was probably 12 inches by 10 inches at that point,” said resident John McManus. “Then I came down this morning and saw this.”

Onlookers had been watching the sinkhole grow over the past few days.

“Left, came back, the hole was bigger,”said resident Izy Sly. “Left, came back, the hole was much bigger. Looks like that whole thing’s gonna fall off into the water.”

According to an informational placard, anywhere from 50 to 90 feet of land eroded away between 2007 and 2010.

Since then, crews built the walkway and staircase.

“We were hopeful it was gonna work for a while,” McManus said. “I guess it didn’t work as long as we had hoped.”

The bluff on Esplanade Avenue is the same place where apartments in danger of falling into the ocean were demolished back in march.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Janna Buechel. “And I actually thought the stairs had dropped down, but it’s actually a pretty big hole.”

Some of those apartments are still standing and still condemned.

Earlier this year, Lands End, which is now called OceanAire apartments, used concrete to shore up the bluffs to help prevent erosion from reaching the complex just a little farther up the street.

Crews are using a concrete pumping truck to start pumping into the sinkhole. A contractor hired by the owner of the apartment complex is trying to figure out what to do. Hoses from the concrete truck are going down into the hole and they are going to plug it up.

The hole is about 30 feet deep, according to the contractor.

Crews plan on being there for a week.

City officials are now investigating the case.

Video courtesy of Janice Gin

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