Esplanade Update – 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:

  1. Work anticipated for dog park and Lands End
  2. Work continued behind 330 Esplanade
  3. No certainty that Pacifica will allow people back into 330 Esplanade
  4. Subsidies for work sought… so far unsuccessfully
  5. Waited for decision regarding 320 Esplanade
  6. Coastal Commission $1 million fine mentioned Feb 1, 2010

Details:

1. Work anticipated for dog park and Lands End

In a January 31 story from the San Francisco Examiner: Chances of saving Pacifica apartment building increasing Tony Fortunato said that his company’s next project will likely be to save and repair…a public access point down the road from the Esplanade Avenue apartments where pounding waves are also causing erosion.

While the focus has largely been on the public access point, a grassy “dog park”, erosion has also cut into the bluff enough that residents of nearby Lands End apartments Building 112 are feeling threatened.

Before new work can begin the Coastal Commission will have to give its approval. It was my impression that the owners of Lands End may already have a permit application before the Coastal Commission for rock rip rap. Perhaps I was mistaken, or perhaps we’re still waiting for that approval. Time will tell.

2. Work continued behind 330 Esplanade

Crews continued to drill and cement 50′ rods into the bluff under 330 Esplanade. Work started at the top of the bluff in order to secure the most vulnerable part of the face first, and to make it safe enough to work lower down. As workers set each rod they cap it with a small square steel plate and spray a thin layer of cement onto the bluff all around it. At some point they will start construction of a full-height steel wall to provide more substantial support and protection to the bluff. The interior of the wall will be filled with cement, and the exterior will be coated with textured and colored cement made to resemble rock. The result should resemble the retaining walls along Route 92, etc. The project may conclude with a sea-wall of some sort at the base of the bluff.

3. No certainty that Pacifica will allow people back into 330 Esplanade

Doug Rider, Pacifica’s Chief Building Official, had been reported to say that his office would not automatically allow people to return to 330 Esplanade. His criteria for evaluating the building were not spelled out but apparently included occupant safety, earthquake security, and groundwater management. Residents I spoke with said that the prospect of a 60 foot vertical drop beneath their back patio or deck would seem unsafe. However, residents of San Francisco high-rise condos seem to like it.

4. Subsidies for work sought… so far unsuccessfully

Until now the owners of the buildings along Esplanade Ave have paid for all of the work that’s being done to save their property. The rock rip rap wall that was laid at the base of the cliff behind 330 Esplanade shortly after the initial bluff collapse on December 27th was estimated to have cost $200K to $400K. This rock was later extended to provide urgently needed protection for 320 and 310 Esplanade. The projected cost of the work on the bluff below 330 Esplanade has been estimated between $2 and $4 million.

Owners approached Pacifica for help and were rejected: nothing from the City except for critical infrastructure, not for private property. FEMA also rejected their request: a long-eroding coastal area is a pre-existing condition, not an emergency. The county and state have not rejected a request outright, but the current fiscal crisis makes it seem unlikely they have money to spare. The latest idea: get Federal stimulus money.

5. Waited for decision regarding 320 Esplanade

At this point we do not know of plans to extend the bluff remediation project to 320 Esplanade. While I do not know the reasons for this I speculated about it a bit in my post Clock is Ticking for 320 Esplanade. In addition to what I had written I’ll add that a permit for this work is already waiting before the Coastal Commission for a decision. The Commission had previously granted a permit for the rock rip rap, but nothing further. (See my post April 2009 Coastal Commission Permit Approval for Rip Rap)

I have heard it reported that the earliest the coastal commission can vote to decide if it will grant needed permits is March, but I don’t have a reference for that just now.

Note that back on December 19th and 21st I reported that 330 Esplanade would have been evacuated before crane operations could commence, even if the building had been otherwise safe. If the crane should fail or fall for some reason, it would cut the building in two. This happened in Santa Rosa back on November 18th, 2009: ABC (KGO 7) report 50-ton crane slams into Santa Rosa home.

6. Coastal Commission $1 million fine mentioned Feb 1, 2010

A $1 million fine for modifications to the coastal area without permission was mentioned in the KRON-TV 4 piece New Concerns Emerge About Cliff Behind Pacifica Apartments on Feb 1, 2010. (Note that links to stories on KRON.COM rapidly go bad. Some problem with their site…too bad.) I have not heard any more about this.

See all of my pictures of the Esplanade crisis:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisd2006/collections/72157622920945823/

For a complete chronology and links to many more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade.
http://adequatebird.com/2009/12/17/evacuation-underway-at-330-esplanade/

3 Responses to Esplanade Update – Sunday February 7, 2010

  1. Chris says:

    I want to thank a resident of Lands End who gave me the number of the building closest to the dog park erosion. I could have looked it up, but keeping track of all the details sometimes gets away from me.

  2. Pingback: Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade « Adequate Bird

  3. Pingback: Rain causes headaches along Pacifica coast (Photos)

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