Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pacifica Cliffs Update - Lands End Apartments

Cliffs of Lands End apartments, the Joan Levin historic residence and other properties further north of the Esplanade Apartment buildings also lost land this year. Lands End Apartments are getting coastal commission permits now. The city council bluff erosion study session (2/10/10) discussed.some possible solutions: 1) forming a "Geological Hazard Abatement District" to secure property owner funding to stabilize the cliffs, and 2) the US Army Corp of Engineers will make a cliff study, and consider long term solutions. And, as recently as last night there was a quick comment on a television news station that the State may offer some help (right, if the State can help itself).

2/17/10 Pacifica Tribune front page.

"United States Geological Survey (USGS) representative Brian Collins said the bluffs have been a major source of study for the last 10 years. That study revealed the cliff can fail two ways — through wave action on the bottom and through rainfall seepage from the top of the bluff. A 2007 study indicated the cliff was retreating Both the U.S. Corp of Engineers and the California Coastal Commission said they would expedite permits for property owners and bring owners who did work without permits into compliance as soon as possible. at the rate of two and a half feet per year, but this year lost more than 30 feet in one month. Collins said in the absence of mitigation, the cliff was likely to continue its rapid retreat."

2/15/10 Channel 7video.

Tour by city council (Mayor Digre and Councilmember Nihart). Jackie Spier, "Its private property, not a lot we can concern now is for the streets and thew sewer."From Wayne Freedman, news team. PACIFICA, CA (KGO) -- "After a weekend of world class high surf, the cliffs and apartments along Esplanade Avenue in Pacifica have not suffered further losses, at least in the areas where engineering work began last December."They held up well," says Tony Fortunato, who runs the project for Engineered Soil Repairs. "We have most of the flashing in under the cliff, now, but not the finishing coat." He expects to begin similar work beneath 320 Esplanade in the near future. "They're at the point where the other apartments were when they needed work." Further up the coast, the owners of Lands End are close to receiving a permit from the California Coastal Commission that would allow work beneath their crumbling cliffs, as well".

2/17/10 Channel 4 opinion pole. Outside Pacifica not much sympathy

Questionnaire: "Should the city of Pacifica declare the crumbling cliff side a disaster in order to get federal funding or loans to help private property owners with repair costs?"

The 3 to 1 answer is NO. Even if federal funding is possible, most people participating in this pole apparent were not willing to pay federal tax dollars to supplement Pacifica's cliff problem. City council has been aware of this problem as well, yet no progress for 8 years.

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Chris Dant said...

In addition to the items you mention, on Tuesday the Pacifica City Manager proclaimed a local emergency: "To deal with this threat the City is requesting a Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster declaration so as to qualify the owners for SBA assistance to shore up the properties". This was probably in part the result of Brian Perkins (of Jackie Speier's office) following up after the 2/10 Study Session.

Also regarding the 2/10 Study Session: The Army Corp of Engineers said that it could do an assessment but did not, as far as my notes show, volunteer to undertake any work at this point. They did describe two programs that could provide funding: Title 103, a slow and currently over-subscribed program; and, another with a 60% / 40% cost sharing arrangement and a ~$5 million max. The 40% from Pacifica or other agency, not the owners, so not too likely.

You can read the Proclamation and my own detailed chronology on my website,

Anonymous said...

Brian's a decent sort. Glad to see him in action.

Kathy Meeh said...

Thanks Chris, good information, and I did view your website. Glad you attended the 2/10 meeting (nothing like being there), and gave us an update.

According to the Tribune article (above), if the city (lead agency) requests that the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) does the geological assessment, USACE will fund up to $100,000, but they made no assurance of moving forward (including cost-sharing) unless the property is worth more than the cost to repair the cliff damage. And, does that agree with your understanding?

As you mentioned, the city is looking for grant money to assist. 2/22/10 (Monday) City council agenda: 1) Consent Calendar (approve), item 5, existence of a local emergency, and 2) Consideration (discuss) item 7 designate the Joan Levin house (Dollaradio Station), 100 Palmetto, a historic landmark. Different ways to obtain grant money.

Also note, from the Tribune article..
"United States Geological Survey (USGS) representative Brian Collins said the bluffs have been a major source of study for the last 10 years." Remember the 100-200 block of Esplanade houses fell into the ocean about 11 years ago. This city council offered no signification action except to fund (through a grant) a trail for Esplanade where the houses were condemned or fell into the ocean. What else is new?

Anonymous said...

Before you make fun of people who don't know the difference between "looser" and "loser", you should learn the difference between "pole" and "poll".

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Chris Dant said...

The Esplanade situation doesn't qualify as a FEMA-level emergency, we heard, because of pre-existing conditions such as the one you mention.

True, the first $100K of the feasibility study phase is at 100% Federal cost in a Section 103 project, but projects are not automatically studied. Criteria include "economic viability", "environmental acceptability." In addition, each project is limited to a total Federal cost of not more than $3 million, including all project-related costs for feasibility studies, planning, engineering, and construction supervision and administration.

The sense at the Council study session was that Section 103 would not fly. I think that's why they're going with the SBA approach.

See "Section 103" here:

I'll post it and a link up to AdequateBird soon.

Kathy Meeh said...

Excellent Chris, thanks for directing to the USACE website which even includes city council sample resolution wording. And for a look at your website

Bark Nuggets said...

Thanks for keeping us updated on the situation, Chris.