Eroding cliff prompts evacuations in Pacifica

A crumbling cliff forced residents to grab what they could and flee an apartment building atop a coastal bluff because of fears it could slide into the Pacific Ocean.

Building officials in Pacifica ordered residents out immediately Thursday morning as large chunks of cliff plunged into the ocean, leaving the 12-unit building just 10 feet from the edge of the wave-battered, 50-foot bluff.

The evacuation order was issued after part of the cliff, saturated by recent storms, broke off around 5:30 a.m., chief building official Doug Rider said.

An initial evacuation deadline of 5 p.m. was moved up as the cliff continued to crumble. Moving trucks filled the street as about 20 frantic residents packed up what belongings they could.

“It’s been insane. I can’t even think,” said Amanda O’Connell, 24, a swim teacher in the town of 38,000 residents.

O’Connell said residents were warned earlier in the week about the deteriorating bluff. She and her boyfriend decided to move some of their larger possessions out early, just in case, she said.

“This whole week has been the most stressful week of my life,” O’Connell said.

Two nearby buildings also were being monitored but remained stable for the time being, thanks to a wave-deflecting barrier of boulders at the bottom of the bluff, Rider said.

Rick Jenkins, 62, lives in the building next to the evacuated apartments. He said the sound of the cliff breaking apart Thursday morning was like thunder or an earthquake.

Much of the cliff in front of Jenkins’ home had fallen away about 18 months ago before the boulders were brought in, he said. Gesturing toward the wide blue expanse of ocean that greets him every morning, he said the risk was worth it.

“You either move or you don’t,” Jenkins said. “I guess when they say it’s time to go, you go.”

Bay Area NewsLocalPeninsula

Just Posted

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Speaker of the Parliament of Mongolia Gombojav Zandanshatar said his country and San Francisco face similar challenges on issues including COVID recovery and climate change.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Mongolian leaders meet with tech, film leaders on city tour

‘I really want San Franciscans to meet the new Mongolian generation’

Most Read