Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Owner misses deadline for plan to save Pacifica cliff apartments

By Julia Scott
San Mateo County Times
Updated: 07/20/2010 11:14:26 PM PDT
Cliffside apartment building owner Millard Tong failed to meet a deadline to submit a timeline for repairs to the cliff behind his evacuated building Monday, but building officials said they don't plan to enforce it. 

When the city emptied 320 Esplanade Ave. on April 29 because tenants were living in a dangerous building at the edge of an eroding cliff, officials slapped Tong with a notice of violation requiring him to submit a timeline on how to save the building or choose to demolish it. The initial deadline was May 28. It was extended, at Tong's request, until June 17 and then again to July 19.

In June, Tong's representative warned the city that he had not yet found an affordable way to stabilize the upper portion of the 80-foot seaside cliff, which lost heavy chunks of sandy soil this winter. He said there would be headway by July, but so far no plan has emerged.

Pacifica building official Doug Rider said that as long as the building stays empty, and no one's life is in danger, missing the deadline wasn't that important.

"Their indication is that they intend to continue in the process to save the buildings. We're trying give them as much room as we can justify," Rider said.

He has previously said the city could face a lawsuit if it moves too quickly to condemn 320 as well as 330 Esplanade, which was evacuated in December.

"The next step would be to condemn the property and then to tear it down," Rider said. "That's a horrible thing, OK? So all this is bad unless they fix it."

Both Tong and Farshid Samsami, owner of 330 Esplanade, are struggling to come up with a way to finance an elaborate cliff repair expected to cost $1.5 million to $3 million.

The owners have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on temporary fixes like rip rap — heavy rock placed at the bottom of the cliff to deflect the waves. In January, Samsami paid an engineering firm to install a reinforced concrete wall along the cliff but stopped the work three months later.

Both men have also been sued for unpaid bills by the firm that did the cliff work, Engineered Soil Repairs Inc.

On Monday, ESR sued Samsami for $589,589 for work done since 2008. The firm asked a court to place a lien against the apartment building in April. The lawsuit asks the court to seize the building and try to sell it to pay off its bills. ESR also sued Tong for $1.8 million in unpaid construction bills in May.

Samsami said ESR could expect a counter-lawsuit soon. 


Submitted by Jim Alex


les said...
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Anonymous said...

Louisa, I can't read what you posted using ALL CAPS. Please re-post using caps only at the beginning of sentences.