Thursday 01/21/10 – 320 Esplanade partially red-tagged and we move out

5:15 or so Thursday morning: a knock at the door, “the bluff had fallen away from the back of 320 Esplanade.” Sleepy, worried, we wondered: do we need to leave now? Then we saw that the ice plant-covered bluff, railing and cement walkway had entirely fallen away from behind the three apartments closest to the vacant, red-tagged building at 330 Esplanade. [See for yourself, Why We Left 320 Esplanade (Photo Gallery).] No question in our minds… even if Doug Rider, Chief Building Official of the city of Pacifica, told us we could stay – we were done. Enough of worrying if the cliff would fall away each night as we went to bed.

Thursday 1/21/2010 Chronology of events, as well as we remember them:

  • Approximately 3:00 AM Friday a lot of the bluff fell away into the rock and surf.
  • 6:00 AM – we get out back to see for ourselves. 45 feet of cement walkway and railing are gone. Since the apartments were 15′ wide, this meant just about exactly 3 apartments-worth of bluff + railing + cement had fallen. Later we heard that 60 to 80 feet total may have fallen but from just our vantage just above the bluff it’s actually hard to tell.
  • I have pictures of the broken railing and missing bluff, and will update this post when I get them uploaded. UPDATE: Pictures are here, Why We Left 320 Esplanade (Photo Gallery).
  • 6:30 AM – voluntary evacuation. Residents of the apartments with the missing cement and railings should clear out. Since 320 Esplanade is two storeys, this meant that 6 apartments should be vacated. We’re not in any of those apartments, but close.
  • 7:30 AM – we’re packing and discussing the situation. We decide once we realize that we’ve had enough of surprises and diminishing safety margins. Calls go out to the moving company that we had on stand-by and friends.
  • Approximately 8:00 to 11:00. PG&E concerned about a pipe rupture wants to shut down service to the entire building. A way is found to shut off just the affected part of the building, and gas is left on for the rest of the building. Apparently if the gas had been shut off, then the entire building would have been red-tagged.
  • 9:00 AM – the rental office at a close-by complex opens. Good news! The apartment we had liked best when we had done all of our looking and exploring back in late December was still available.
  • Approximately 9:00 to 11:00 – Doug Rider, Chief Building Official of the city of Pacifica, changes the voluntary evacuation to a mandatory one. Red tags are a fixed to all 6 doors.
  • An aside: we were incredulous about this decision. It made as much sense to us as would being “a little bit pregnant”. Our only explanation for this is that the engineers and city must plan to monitor the situation so closely that residents will be warned before anything bad can happen.
  • 11:00 – our movers arrive and we start boxing and moving.
  • Of course the time line continued well into Thursday night since we had to box everything, take two trips with the truck, and figure out what to do with a 30 year old but sweet-sounding, well loved piano.

All of my pictures on the Esplanade evacuations:

For a complete chronology and links to many more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade.

2 Responses to Thursday 01/21/10 – 320 Esplanade partially red-tagged and we move out

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