Pacifica Residents on Crumbling Cliff Don’t Want to Move

Pacifica collapse (Josh Edelson / Getty)
Josh Edelson / Getty

Residents of a Pacifica, California apartment building teetering on the edge of a cliff do not want to move out, even though their homes could fall into the ocean at any moment.

Earlier this week, residents of 310 Esplanade Avenue in Pacifica were ordered to pack and evacuate after large portion of the bluff on which the building sits broke off and tumbled into the ocean. The bluff has slowly eroded as waves, including particularly powerful waves fueled by the current Pacific El Niño, have lashed against it.

A dramatic drone-shot video taken by an employee of local Fox affiliate KTVU earlier this week revealed the extent of the bluff’s erosion.

While the city “yellow-tagged” the apartment building on Monday–meaning residents were only allowed inside to pack their things–some residents were not yet ready to move out.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Michelle McKay, who has lived at 310 Esplanade for the past five years, was circulating a petition among her neighbors asking the city to rescind its evacuation order.

“This is all sensationalism,” McKay told the paper. “We’re not going to let them put us on the street. They’re displacing 20 families. That’s not fair.”

Longtime resident Jeff Bowman told the paper that he believes he should be allowed to stay in his apartment as long as he is aware of the danger, and said it would be nearly impossible to find another apartment in Pacifica that allows dogs.

“Where the hell are Tucker and I supposed to go?” Bowman told the Chronicle. “I know this place is dangerous. I’m not stupid. But I don’t feel anything is going to happen right now. What’s the rush to make us leave?”

The city has reportedly enlisted the help of the American Red Cross and the Pacifica Resource Center to help relocate the apartment building’s residence. An emergency shelter set up at the Pacifica Baptist Church had reportedly taken in five residents earlier this week.

“We’re in this period of transition right now,” Police Chief Dan Steidle told the Chronicle. “We understand their lives have been turned upside down and we’re doing our best to get them the services they need.”

On Monday, Pacifica’s city manager declared a state of emergency as powerful rainstorms and high surf brought on by the record El Niño have damaged the city’s pier and part of a sea wall near Beach Boulevard. The city said it would need state and federal assistance to address “the growing list of failing public infrastructure.”



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