Pacifica Declares State of Emergency for Crumbling Cliff

By Jessica Greene
|  Friday, Feb 19, 2010  |  Updated 12:01 PM PDT
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Crumbling Cliff Threatens Pacifica Apartments

NBC Bay Area

The ocean view is too close for comfort at a Pacifica apartment building.

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It's a bad news is good news kind of development for residents of apartments and homes too close to a crumbling cliff in Pacifica.

The city of Pacifica declared a state of emergency this week, due to the eroding cliff that's threatening to give way and send at least one apartment building tumbling into the ocean.

The proclamation, signed by City Manager Stephen Rhodes on Wednesday, would allow Pacifica to qualify for financial assistance through the Federal Small Business Administration. It states that 326 housing units are endangered by the erosion, including 14 single-family homes.

Residents of 330 Esplanade Ave. were forced to evacuate the teetering building shortly before Christmas, and a contractor hired by the owners has been trying to stabilize the cliff by placing boulders at its base. The buildings around it are also at risk because the electrical infrastructure runs beneath Esplande Avenue.

Tony Fortunato, the lead engineer on the job to save the building, estimates the work to shore up the cliff will cost $6 million and take about two months. The building's owners have already sunken more than $500,000 to stack boulders at the base of the eroding cliff.

Fortunato and his crew are sure their work will put a halt to Mother Nature's destruction has said that a "permanent" fix doesn't seem realistic, given the location of the apartment buildings.

The proclamation needs to be approved by the state for the city to qualify for the federal assistance.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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