Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade

6 feet of remaining cliff top behind 330 Esplanade Ave, Pacifica

This post contains the chronology of events since the evacuation of 330 Esplanade, Pacifica due to sea-cliff erosion began at about 7:30 AM December 17, 2009. Police were on the scene and a high surf advisory coincided with high tide, adding to concerns.I update this post with new items at the top, and create and link to new posts as needed.

Scroll down to read the chronology, and click the MORE link for the full story and links to additional detail and photos. You can see all of my Esplanade-related posts on one page here: Esplanade. See all of my pictures on Flickr Evacuations at 330 Esplanade, Pacifica CA.

Related stories:

Read on for the history going back to the original dirt fall and evacuation on December 17, 2009…

  • Mid-August Update (8-16-2010)
    • Most private and municipal properties along Esplanade Ave in Pacifica have little more than temporary rock rip-rap walls as protection from winter rains and storms. At this point only properties owned by Aimco Apartments (360 and 380 Esplanade) are protected by a completed cement wall.
    • The likely results, if things stay as they are, include a several hundred-thousand dollar project for Pacifica to restore and protect a damaged water outlet, and damage or collapse of 320 and 330 Esplanade Ave along with damage to associated city utilities.
    • Esplanade Ave Bluff Erosion – August Photo Update
    • Most recent Esplanade Aerial Photo
  • Saturday July 24, 2010
  • Tuesday Jul 20, 2010
    • From Julia Scott and the San Mateo County Times:
      Owner misses deadline for plan to save Pacifica cliff apartments – San Jose Mercury News.
    • Pacifica City official Doug Rider is watching the situation closely but as long as the owner continues to make progress towards a solution will not take action. “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.”
    • Lede paragraph sums up the main news (but see the article for important details):

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.

  • Monday July 12, 2010
    • A new lawsuit was reported in yesterday’s San Mateo Times between the subcontractor that did the aerial drilling behind / beneath 330 Esplanade Avenue in Pacifica CA., Drill Tech Drilling & Shoring, Inc., and the prime contractor. Engineering Soil Resources Inc. Also named in the suit is the owner of 330 Esplanade, Farshid Samsami. The suit alleges that Drill Tech Drilling & Shoring worked as contracted but was never paid. See my post for a link to the original story: Legal mess over Pacifica cliff work grows. You can see the case documents on the San Mateo Superior Court “Open Access” website, Unlimited Civil case, 496610, “Case CIV496610 – DRILL TECH DRILLING VS ENGINEERED SOIL REPAIRS“.
    • As I read the complaint I noticed that the first attachment, presumably intended to represent the contract between the parties (exhibit “A”) does not reference 330 Esplanade at all. Instead it appears to be a bid that Drill Tech submitted to ESR dated November 12, 2009 for a similar soil-nail project to be done for 310 and 320 Esplanade. November 2009 was weeks before the bluff erosion and collapse that ultimately closed 330, and eventually also shuttered 320 Esplanade. See my post November 2009 Bid for work behind 310 and 320 Esplanade for more details.
  • Friday July 9, 2010
  • Friday July 2, 2010
  • Saturday June 26, 2010
    • Thanks to a helpful local source with a camera, we get a look at 330 Esplanade now that crews have removed the balcony and patio:
    • :::
  • Friday June 18, 2010
    • News today from San Mateo County Times that one or more owners are considering petitoning Pacifica for the formation of a Geologic Hazard Abatement District. The article doesn’t specify the owners but presumably included, 320 / 310 Esplanade, Millard Tong and 330 Esplanade, Farshid Samsami. For more information about this Special district see my post Geologic Hazard Abatement District.
    • Given the history of conflict between the owners, and the fact that Lands End has gone ahead with a project for its own property, I have a hard time seeing how this can succeed.
  • Thursday June 17, 2010
    • Extension Granted for 320. No determination on 330, because there was no deadline. See my post for details.
  • Wednesday June 16, 2010
    • The owner of 320 Esplanade, Millard Tong, requested a 30 extension on the deadline to submit a repair plan to Pacifica. Doug Ryder, the Pacifica building official, planned to meet with the Pacifica city manager and city attorney Thursday to discuss whether to grant the extension. See my story for more details: Owner Requests 30-Day Extension.
  • Tuesday June 15, 2010
    • KPIX 5 (CBS), CBS5.COM Months Later, Pacifica Cliff Still Crumbling by Don Knapp. Good video with the story, particularly for people who haven’t tracked each detail of this story. Interesting tidbit: Knapp reports that the owners of both 330 and 320/310 face the same deadline to show that the buildings can be saved, or pay for the demolition.
  • Monday June 14, 2010
    • News from a source on Esplanade Ave the second storey balcony behind 330 Esplanade has started to collapse, and may just be a matter of time until it tears from the back of the apartment building and falls to the beach:
      See all four pictures at my post, 330 Esplanade Balcony.
    • Work has progressed below the “dog park” and Lands End:
    • Meanwhile the clock is ticking towards the June 17th deadline that Pacifica gave Millard Tong, owner of 310 and 320 Esplanade, to provide an erosion- and earthquake-proof plan to rescue his imperiled buildings.
  • Monday May 17, 2010
    • From the Fix Pacifica blog comes news of a civil suit filed in San Mateo Court by Engineered Soil Resources against Millard Tong for payment due for work done since Fall 2008. (Fix Pacifica: The Crumbly Cliffs lawsuits begin)
    • According to the Complaint, Tong has refused to pay all amounts due to work done on both 310 Esplanade Ave, and 320 Esplanade going back to 2008.
    • I’ve heard for some time that Tong has not paid for the work that had been done, including the rock rip rap laid in 2008 and the emergency work done since January. Until now I had no confirmation of that, but even now I don’t understand it. Over on Fix Pacifica, the commenters seem to think that the Esplanade owners are readying lawsuits against the City of Pacifica. Certainly I agree that more suits are on the way, but I’m still very curious about Tong’s reasons to hold up or deny payment.
    • For details of the amounts owed and links to the complaints see my post: Esplanade Lawsuit – ESR vs. Millard Tong (310 & 320 Esplanade).
  • Sunday May 9, 2010
  • Thursday May 6, 2010. Julia Scott, San Mateo County Times, insideBayArea.com Pacifica apartment owners feel hopeful following meeting.
    • Owners reached an agreement to a uniform engineering approach for the projects along Esplande Ave, essential to any project that attempts to remediate the bluff behind 320 and 330. Beyond these two properties, the agreement may help to lower the overall cost by allowing contractors to reuse access roads, extend leases on rented equipment, and the like. That said, there is no indication whatsoever that there is any funding for the work, and 320 Esplanade is apparently threatened by a new June 17 deadline to show that the building can be reopened to tenants.
    • For more details see my post Pacifica apartment owners hopeful following meeting.

“At this point, no one can be certain that the buildings would be safe in an earthquake,” said Pacifica City Engineer Doug Rider. “Two weeks ago, they lost ten more feet of bluff between 320 and 330. It has undermined porches and foundations. If there were a large earthquake, sixty feet of bluff could fall right back to the street in an instant.”

  • Friday April 20, 2010 – morning
    • Deadline to vacate 320 Esplanade: Sunday May 2, 2010, 11:00 PM.
    • Some new details have surfaced since yesterday and the story is showing up in more news outlets. The reporter for Bay City News, a local news service, spoke with Pacifica Building Official Dough Rider:

    After residents evacuated 330 Esplanade Ave. in December, a private company began construction on a concrete wall to hold up the cliff. The wall was not completed due to financial constraints, Rider said. The building owners were responsible for financing the project and were unable to get supplemental money from federal agencies.

    This week, rain washed away the sand behind the wall, causing it to crack and pull away from the cliff, Rider said. The building is now in danger of falling into the ocean.

    • I’ve collected some of the links here: Evacuation Order for 320 Esplanade.
    • Helicopters and news vans have returned, and the number of visitors and reporters has skyrocketed.
  • Thursday April 29, 10:30 PM. Evacuation order for 320 Esplanade
    • According to the KTVU 2 (Fox, KTVU.COM) story Erosion Continues Pummeling Pacifica Cliff the few remaining residents at 320 Esplanade have until 11 p.m. Sunday night to clear out of the building. City officials from the Planning and Development Department who ordered residents to vacate the building reportedly did so out of seismic concerns, rather than for erosion caused by surf or ground-water. Residents and observers have known that the loss of the protective bluff left the building in a precarious state. Apparently the latest engineering reports called into question the viability / practicality of replacing the bluff in order to make the buildings safe.
    • KTVU 2 (Fox, KTVU.COM) video Second Pacifica Cliff Apartment Evacuated. Sunday deadline, brief helicopter view of the sagging patio and undercut buildings.
  • Thursday April 29, 2010, 5:30 PM: Orders to Vacate and Repair – 320 Esplanade
    • Taped to the front door of each apartment of 320 Esplanade today was a”Notice of Violation / Substandard and Dangerous Building” from the City of Pacifica.
    • This post, Orders to Vacate and Repair – 320 Esplanade, has a transcription of the first page. If anyone has a copy of the full set of the documents for me, I’d be glad to post them.
  • Tuesday April 27, 2010
    • No news so far from Pacifica or the owners. Was there a deadline last Thursday, 4/22? Perhaps it was was delayed so that a new engineering survey could be made and reported.
    • The patio between 330 and 320 Esplanade is still in place. Work to remove it started and stopped by Pacifica before it was finished, since there were no permits.
    • You can see my recent pictures of Esplanade on my website at this post Lands End Ramp, Patio at 330 Esplanade, or in bigger sizes and more description in a set on Flickr: Lands End Ramp, Patio at 330.
  • Further bluff collapse beneath 320 Esplanade endangers more of the building, Thursday April 15, 2010.
    • 11:30 PM. A much better report from KGO-TV 7 (ABC) More Erosion Threatens Pacifica condo. The building at risk, 320 Esplanade, is apartments not condos.
    • 6:00 PM. From KGO-TV 7 (ABC): More erosion threatens Pacifica condo (Wayne Freedman).
      • According to the KGO story Pacifica Building Official Doug Rider and City Manager Stephen Rhodes inspected new damage at 320 Esplanade this morning.  Reportedly, “the collapse took a deck with it, which in turn pulled reinforcing protective concrete from beneath the building next door.” As a result small cracks have now appeared in the building foundation, and Pacifica is considering red-tagging the whole building. The story also mentions some interesting details about the attempts to find funding for the work.
    • See this post for pictures, video and more information.
  • Quite a bit of Esplanade-related activity is scheduled for consideration at Monday’s Pacifica City Council Meeting on Monday April 12, 2010. Tip of the hat to Pacifica Riptide for drawing my attention to the Council Agenda with the post Gosh, Honey, You Bought Me a Crumbling Cliff?! You Shouldn’t Have! Summary of items, see my post Pacifica Council Agenda – Prior to the April 12, 2010 Meeting for more detail.
    • Agenda details:
      • Aimco to Buy 330 Esplanade?
        • Scheduled for a closed session immediately before the Council Meeting is a conference with a “real property negotiator” regarding 330 Esplanade. In this case the negotiator is Pacifica City Manager Stephen Rhodes and three negotiating parties: City of Pacifica; 330 Esplanade, LLC; and, Aimco Esplanade Avenue Apartments, LLC. Description of this session from the agenda, in its entirety:

        PURSUANT TO GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 54956.8 Conference with Real Property Negotiator. Discussion concerns price and terms of payment. Agency negotiator attending session: Stephen Rhodes. Negotiating parties: City of Pacifica and 330 Esplanade, LLC and Aimco Esplanade Avenue Apartments, LLC Property: APN 009-131-030.

        • Judging by the title of the post on Pacifica Riptide (Gosh, Honey, You Bought Me a Crumbling Cliff?! You Shouldn’t Have!) they seem concerned that Pacifica is planing to buy 330 Esplanade. This seems absurdly unlikely to me given the difficult financial situation in Pacifica. Instead, my inference is that Pacifica is in some way facilitating a deal between Aimco and the current owner of 330 Esplanade.
        • Judge for yourself: California Government Code Section 54956.8. It does seem to apply to “purchase, sale, exchange, or lease of real property by or for the local agency.” Maybe I’m wrong and Pacifica really does want to own a near-ruined building?!
        • We have wondered where the money to finish the rehabilitation of 330 Esplanade’s property would come from. From the Aimco website: Aimco is a real estate investment trust headquartered in Denver, Colorado that owns and operates a geographically diversified portfolio of apartment communities.
        • Aimco owns 5 or more properties with 25 miles of Pacifica, and 3 in Pacifica proper (see map).
      • City Property Threatened by Erosion
        • A new proclamation of Local Emergency to be ratified on Monday describes:

        severe cliff erosion, landslide, ground subsidence and failure of the revetment supporting the City’s storm drainage outfall structures at 380 and 400 Esplanade Avenue in Pacifica (see 04/12_2010 City Council Meeting Agenda PDF page 36)

        • This is the first time that a threat to City property has recognized by an emergency proclamation. We have long heard that City finances will start to flow if or when municipal assets are at risk, so we’re curious to see how this new chapter of the story develops.
      • Dollaradio Station (100 Palmetto Avenue) to be Designated Historic Landmark
        • In a follow-up to a resolution passed in the February City Council meeting (Weekend Update – February 22, 2010), an ordinance making Dollaradio an official Historic Landmark has been introduced.
        • Based on discussion at the February meeting, it appears the Historic Landmark designation will be granted in order to make it possible or easier for Joan Levin, the owner of Dollaradio, to find other sources of funding for the work to save her property.
        • Note that the work that has been done was considered temporary, granting only about another year of life to one or more of the buildings, and additional work is necessary for a more permanent fix.
  • April 6, 2010 – Visible and Invisible Progress Along Esplanade
    • Excavator indicates that work is about to begin at Lands End
    • Crane between 360 and 360 Esplanade for work beginning there
    • Some of the other properties in Pacifica do have plans for work, and others do not. For details see my post Visible and Invisible Progress Along Esplanade.
  • Sunday March 21, 2010
    • Residents of 360 Esplanade report that on Friday March 19th they received notice that work would start this week on reinforcing the bluff to the north of 360 with soil nails.
      • Residents of 360 Esplanade report that on Friday March 19th they received notice that work would start this week on reinforcing the bluff to the north of 360 with soil nails.
      • Reportedly a crane will be assembled in front of 360 and operate in the driveway between 360 and 380.
      • In addition, scaffolding will be erected adjacent to the rocks on the bluff.
      • Work is expected to last 6 to 8 weeks.
      • The building management at 360 emphasized the importance of new No Trespassing signs that will be going up, and urged anyone who sees trespassers to call the building office or Pacifica police.
      • For a property line map of 360 Esplanade see this post.
    • The rest of the Esplanade area appears to be quiet. No visible activity from 330 south (330, 320, 310, Lands End). I don’t have an update on Joan Levin’s Dolalr Radio home.
  • Thursday March 11. Notice of permit application appeared at Pacific View Villas, stapled to the entrance of the condos (Notice of Pending Permit – Pacifica View Villas HOA):
(Coastal Commission)
Notice of Pending Permit.
Proposed Development: Reconstruction of the rock riprap revetment at  the base of the (top) filled slope
Location: 200-224 Palmetto
Applicant: Pacific View Villas  B. Willoughby authorized agent
Date notice posted: 3-7-2010
  • Wednesday March 10
    • No visible progress at Lands End.
    • The March Coastal Commission meeting is taking place this week with no sign of any Esplanade or Pacifica-related news. (Commission meeting archive video and agendas with links to all reports.)
  • Sunday March 7 Esplanade Update – Work to Begin at Lands End?
    • Residents expect work to begin toward building a rip rap rock wall (revetment) below Lands End, including the “dog park”, driveway and building 112. We’ve heard that the plan is to remove the remnants of the stairway and possibly use that space to excavate a dirt road down to the beach. I’m not sure what make of this since it seems the result would be awfully steep. It has been mentioned that a road of some sort is needed for efficiency, and that the overall distance from the existing way at the intersection of Manor and Esplanade is too far.
    • As a lay observer the length of the road does seem to be problematic. The “road” that exists today starts at the intersection of Manor with Esplanade and is nothing more than boulders covered with sand. The problem is that the sand is largely washed away at each high tide, and without the sand, only tracked vehicles can use it. So each day, before the high-speed, high-capacity dump trucks can use the road, excavators have to get down there and resurface the boulders with sand. For pictures of the process of “rebuilding” road see my post from December 28th Covering the rock road with sand – Image Gallery.
  • Monday March 1, 2010 – Pacific Skies Estates mobile homes park
    • KGO-TV 7 (ABC) Pacifica mobile homes threatened by high waves. A few mobile homes in Pacifica were quickly boarded up after big waves began pounding the beach. One of the houses on 4th Avenue, inside the Pacific Skies Estates mobile homes park, was damaged.
    • KRON4 TV (Independent) Geologists Assess Damage to Pacifica Trailer Park. Geologists and other experts are examining erosion damage at a Pacifica trailer park after a weekend surge damaged one mobile home. The resident of the damaged home may be moved to another facility. Pacifica Mayor Sue Degrie told KRON 4’s Yoli Aceves Monday morning:

“There’s been a concern that anytime you have erosion starting, when you have a winter and rains like they were, we’re very fortunate that it’s not a strong El Nino year and that we haven’t had terrible rains but the rains that we did have over the weekend were very concerning because you have rains on top and the high surf.”

“I saw the pier yesterday and they were very high near the pier. This whole coastline is obviously a very serious situation.

  • Monday March 1, 2010 – Weekend Update
    • Continued erosion at the open space (“dog park”) but no word if it has increased the risk to building 112 of the Lands End complex
    • No work on Esplanade or at Lands End this past week
    • Work continued on the project to protect the Dollar Radio buildings. This work has been termed “temporary” and expected to provide a year or so of protection only.
    • Fence installed around 330 Esplanade.
    • There are so many posts regarding the erosion-related problems in Pacifica that it’s getting harder to find things. The search functionality on the side of each page helps, as does the Esplanade page. I’ve been tinkering around with a more visual representation of the posts here: Experimental Esplanade Timeline – Version 1. Let me know what you think.
  • Sunday February 28, 2010 – Pictures

    • Fence around 330 Esplanade – definitely looks forlorn.

    • Soil nails and cement to halt erosion behind 330 Esplanade – halted the progress of erosion but insufficient for residents to return.

    • Erosion undercuts cement patios of 320 Esplanade – south end of 320 Esplanade looks worse at this point than 330 ever did.
    • See the rest of the pictures from Sunday: February 2010 Esplanade Update – Photo Gallery
  • Monday February 22, 2010 – Weekend Update
    • City Council Meeting Agenda items:
      • Adopt Proclamation Confirming Existence of a Local Emergency (Proposed action: adopt proclamation confirming existence of local emergency). For more information see my post Pacifica Declares Local State Of Emergency.
      • Adoption of Resolution Initiating Historic Landmark Designation Process for the Dollaradio Station, 100 Palmetto Avenue (Assessor Parcel Number 009-401-060) (Proposed action: move that the City Council adopt the resolution next in order initiating the historic landmark designation process for the Dollaradio Station). The Dollar Radio (Dollaradio) property on Palmetto Ave. does have an interesting history, see my post Sampling Dollar Radio’s History.
      • Both of these actions seem to be intended to make it easier for property owners to obtain funding outside of the municipal government or local agencies.
    • During the Study Session hosted by the Pacifica City Council on February 10th, one of the possible funding sources that was discussed was an Army Corp of Engineers program called “Section 103?. The main drawback of the Section 103 program seemed to be that even though an initial project analysis could be funded with federal monies, 35% to 50% of the overall expense would have to be paid by Pacifica or a local agency. The consensus at the Study Session seemed to be that requirement for local funding was a non-starter. You can see Section 103 at my post US Army Corp of Engineers, Continuing Authorities Program, Section 103.
    • Work behind 330 Esplanade stopped Monday or Tuesday 2/15 or 2/16, and the crane required to do the work was removed. Some people may be happy for the peace and quiet, but the very real problems faced by the remaining residents and landlords are just waiting to get worse.
  • Saturday February 13, 2010
    • Good news! Good surf for Mavericks but no reports of new damage to the bluffs along Esplanade.
    • California Coastal Commission Meeting Feb 10, 2010. I’ve posted some frames of the video of the Coastal Commission meeting where emergency permits for Esplanade were discussed.
    • No permit had been submitted for Lands End, but the Coastal Commission saw a short presentation on the erosion there. Note that it is up to the land owner to take action, not the Coastal Commission.
  • Thursday February 11, 2010
    • Mavericks IS ON for Saturday, February 13th. The contest is fantastic, photogenic fun but the waves that make it possible also bring stress and worry for Esplanade Ave.
    • I did attend the Study Session hosted by the City of Pacifica last night. Nothing particularly new or surprising to report, but I do hope to write up my own summary in a day or two.
  • Wednesday February 10, 2010
    • Study Session Bluff Erosion North of Manor Drive Pacifica
      Departments – City Manager/City Clerk
      Location: City Council Chambers
      Date: 2/10/2010
      Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
      UPDATE: The session is open to the public and will be held at 2212 Beach Blvd, second floor
      (I DO NOT know if this session is open to the public.)
  • Tuesday February 9, 2010
    • Emergency Permits Approved for 320, 330 and 360 Esplanade. The California Coastal Commission is scheduled to meet tomorrow, February 10 2010. The situation on Esplanade Ave in Pacifica is addressed in the Emergency Permits section of the North Central Coast District Deputy Director’s Report. Emergency Permits for 320 and 330 Esplanade have already been approved, and so has a somewhat surprising one for 360 Esplanade. I see no mention of any kind for Lands End or the dog park in front of it, nor for the Pacific View Villas condo complex on Palmetto Ave.
    • For more detail see my post, Emergency Permits Approved for 320, 330 and 360 Esplanade.
  • Sunday February 7, 2010
    • Crews have been hard at work behind 330 Esplanade, but much of the activities surrounding Esplanade Ave have been less visible. This week
      • Work anticipated for dog park and Lands End
      • Work continued behind 330 Esplanade
      • No certainty that Pacifica will allow people back into 330 Esplanade
      • Subsidies for work sought… so far unsuccessfully
      • Waited for decision regarding 320 Esplanade
      • Coastal Commission $1 million fine mentioned Feb 1, 2010
    • See my post Esplanade Update – Sunday February 7, 2010.
  • Monday February 1, 2010
    • KRON-TV 4 (Independent) reports an additional small fall (2 feet – but how long?) behind 320 Esplanade yesterday or last night: New Concerns Emerge About Cliff Behind Pacifica Apartments. No direct link to the piece available.
    • KRON 4 also reported a meeting between contractors including Tony Fortunato of Engineered Soil Repairs and the building owners. Which owners were not specified but from the context I’d guess it was Farshid Samsami  of 330 Esplanade. The agenda was also not specified but apparently finding funds for the repairs was discussed. The story reiterated Pacifica’s refusal to pay anything until public infrastructure is threatened and FEMA’s refusal to get involved. New was mention of a $1 million fine that might be levied by the California Coastal Commission for modifications to the coastal area without permission. Also new was speculation that perhaps the project could attract Federal Stimulus money since… “after all, the project is creating jobs.”
    • No news of any decision from Millard Tong, the owner of 320 Esplanade, to commence work to shore up his building.
  • Sunday January 31, 2009
    • Clock is Ticking for 320 Esplanade. While work progresses and the future of 330 Esplanade seems more secure, a neighboring building which experienced a very similar dirt fall awaits seemingly necessary attention.
  • Wednesday January 27, 2009

    • Work Progresses Behind 330 Esplanade. Crews continue to work long hours to drill 50′ steel rods (“soil nails”) into the bluff under 330 Esplanade. Work started at the top of the bluff in order to anchor the most fragile, crucial part of the bluff first, and to make it safe for workers lower down. In the above picture taken from a KPIX-TV 5 (CBS) video you can see the major parts of the project: 

38 Responses to Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade

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  22. Pingback: Two More Property Owners Take Action « Adequate Bird

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  24. Pingback: City Declares Local Emergency by proclamation on February 16, 2010 for Esplanade area « Adequate Bird

  25. Pingback: US Army Corp of Engineers, Continuing Authorities Program, Section 103 « Adequate Bird

  26. Pingback: February 2010 Esplanade Update – Photo Gallery

  27. Pingback: Weekend Update

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