Big swells from El Niño storms have eaten away parts of the Pacifica coastline, leaving several vacant structures at risk of collapse into the sea. A local state of emergency was declared Friday.

Pacifica Pier, the Milagra Watershed Outfall and the seawall along Beach Boulevard have seen significant damage during storms over the past month. Several building owners were told their properties are not safe to inhabit.

“El Niño is hitting the city’s coastline very hard and creating almost daily reports of impacts to both public and private property,” City Manager Lorie Tinfow said in a press release.

Drone video shared by Duncan Sinfield on Saturday shows the bluff crumbling beneath apartment buildings on Esplanade Ave.

The apartment buildings at 330 and 320 Esplanade Ave. were previously deemed uninhabitable, but had not been demolished. The apartment building at 310 Esplanade Ave., visible to the left in the video, is still inhabited and is being closely monitored for structural integrity, officials say.

“Locals pretty much know the impact of the ocean and even we are astounded when we see the power of the ocean and what it can do,” says Pacifica Mayor Sue Digre.

The city is asking for state and federal assistance in responding to what officials say is a growing list of failing infrastructure. The cost of the damage has not yet been determined.

El Niño Has Buildings Teetering on Brink of Bluff in Pacifica 25 January,2016Olivia Allen-Price

  • KennethL

    Time to move. Those are old beach sands you built on. They’re not even solidified into bedrock. Basically you geniuses put a building on top of a pile of unconsolidated sand.

  • loujudson

    Kenneth is right! Those apartment buildings need to be demolished at the owner or builders’ expense, and the rest of the town needs to realize they are built on shaky ground… Here’s a song to explain it:

    We are also in Earthquake Country, folks! “State of Emergency?” Hah, this is nature at work, people.

  • Ray Fischer

    In the long run the ocean always wins.


Olivia Allen-Price

Olivia Allen-Price is producer and host of the Bay Curious series. Prior to joining KQED in 2013, Olivia worked at The Baltimore Sun and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. She holds degrees in journalism and political science from Elon University. She loves to talk about running, ice cream and curly hair.

Follow: @oallenprice

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