Tag Archives: esplanade

Mavericks Competition Soon & Surf Photos from November 2008

According to a KGO-TV report, the  Mavericks surf contest could happen Monday. According to Mark Sponsler, surfer and developer of the surf forecasting tool Stormsurf.com, “For Mavericks, we need continuous waves that are twenty feet high or more.”

I’ve seen the big surf at the Mavericks break and it is beautiful and overwhelming and awesome; some day I’d like to get out on the photographer’s boat with a 400mm or 500mm tele and get some real photos of it. You can see what I got from Pillar Point in November 2008 on Flickr and below, on this Cooliris Photo Wall.

(Neat thing to do with this wall… click the top left photo and it will zoom to fill the wall. Now tap the down arrow key on your keyboard to see the next picture. If your mouse is over the picture, you can read the text I provided for each image.)

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Engineers Make New Plans to Save Crumbling Pacifica Cliff

Tuesday 1/5/2010. KRON 4 report from their 5:30 AM newscast “Engineers Make New Plans to Save Crumbling Pacifica Cliff” (no direct link, just try their home page).

Engineers met Monday to plan conclusion of the rock rip rap and start of emergency bluff stabilization below 330 Esplanade. The neighboring building, 320 Esplanade was inspected and measured, and there were no plans to evacuate it. 330 Esplanade is almost stabilized but there are no plans to allow residents back. Highlights from the video:

  • most work on the rock rip rap is complete
  • no mention of adding 10-ton boulders to the 4-ton rock as was mentioned in their report from yesterday noon
  • engineers measured the bluff around 320
  • no plans to evacuate 320
  • confirms that the next phase will probably include soil nails (long metal rods) and retaining plates for the bluff below 330
  • workers to use the crane to work on the bluff, though drilling and driving the soil nails from a moving basket sounds difficult
  • no word on when the next phase will start, but keeping the crane here must be expensive, so figure it to be ASAP
  • good video showing the loss of bluff behind 320 resulting from Saturday’s fall
  • no mention of any work planned for 320
  • no mention of moving 330 back from the street
  • no mention of allowing residents into 330
  • sad interview of an ex-resident of 330 who wanted to get back into her apartment to get some stuff out of the kitchen
  • no plans for residents to return to 330 yet

(NOTE: This post is part of my coverage of the cliff erosion and collapse at 330 Esplanade Ave, Pacifica. For a complete chronology and links to many photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade.)

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Friday January 1, 2010 – Additional Fall Behind 330 Esplanade

Friday January 1, 2010

Alarming and sad news from Pacifica Riptide, Cliffhanger: Esplanade Continues to Crumble. Since yesterday an additional large section of earth has dropped away from the north end of 330 Esplanade.

In this image I’ve added dates and green and red circles to highlight the newly lost dirt. Click the image for a larger size. See the Pacifica Riptide item for the original full-size images.

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Weather and waves hamper cliffside progress

Tuesday December 29, 2009

  • This KGO-TV story from last night, Weather and waves hamper cliffside progress, included a number of nuggets:

    • On December 18th, the day after the cliff collapse that triggered residents’ evacuation, a helicopter cameraman showed a minimum of 6 feet of bluff-top remaining behind 330 Esplanade. A similar view 10 days later (yesterday / Monday) showed that the bluff had dropped entirely away behind more than 30 feet of the building.
    • The sand surface of the rock road is rebuilt in order for metal-tracked vehicles to be able to use it. I got a close up view of the tough little Marooka dump truck (see it on Flickr) they’re using to haul sand and rock, and it does indeed have rubber tracks.
    • And this quote provided hope that the building may be saved for a while longer, at least:
      At the top of the bluff, crews are planning to embed sheets of steel that will allow them to rebuild at least some of the cliff that is lost — the most critical section right at the base of the patio at 330 Esplanade.
  • Thanks to Pacifica Riptide for a good picture of the cliff behind 330 Esplanade showing sheer drop behind the building. The loss of all of the remaining bluff above the cliff puts the building in grave danger while at the same time greatly increasing the cost of remediation. A sea wall could still be built but now it would have to be much taller. Possibly more complex, too – don’t know.

    Photo by Lionel Emde via Pacifica Riptide
    December 28, 2009: threatened Esplanade Avenue apartment building, revealing new loss of land at the top of the bluff. See the Pacifica Riptide post Sisyphean Task: Pushing Pebbles into the Pacific for a photo essay documenting the painstaking process of lifting rock to the cliff base. The author of the essay scoffs at the effort of moving rock this way, ridiculing in a knowing way that the effort is futile. Good images. I had a minor quibble with the text though – struck me as cliched and mean-spirited.

  • I grow more convinced day by day that it’s just a matter of time, as quickly as a few months, and the building will be demolished.
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Work Continues Behind 330 Esplanade

Sunday December 27, 2009

  • 3:50 PM SFExaminer.com: Crews pile rocks to try to save Pacifica cliff. From the article:
    “We’ll be here all week,” Fortunato said. “We’re in pretty good shape now, but we got pounded pretty heavily yesterday,” he said of high surf and powerful waves that slowed down the work Saturday. He said that on Monday they will begin using the crane again to hoist the rocks over the apartment buildings to the base of the cliff.
  • 3:40 PM – ABC 7 report. Highlight was the excavator working on the sand and backing down the beach into the surf. Tony Fortunato said work was “hammered” by weather and waves yesterday but didn’t say that really all they’re doing today is rebuilding the road washed out overnight, Crews continue moving rocks to Pacifica cliff.
  • 3:00 PM – No crane operations today, not sure why. A lot of activity over at Chit Chat at Manor. Load after load of rock trucked in and stacked into an impressive mountain. A tracked dump truck made numerous runs down the new road with sand before switching to rock. Looking at the road from next to 330 we don’t see any activity yet. Looks like they’re rebuilding the road. I do mean rebuilding because it was done and smooth last night. (I have pictures of it that I hope to post later or first thing Monday.)
  • 9:00 AM – sunny, pretty impressive surf, quiet. The sand surface of the road down on the beach is GONE. Rock is still there of course, but only something fairly agile will be able to cross to the base of 330. The crane and machines aren’t running up on Esplanade this morning. Perhaps they’re waiting for the tide to recede?
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Merry Christmas, Not a Holiday, Wishes

Friday December 25, 2009

  • MERRY CHRISTMAS!
  • Work with the crane on Esplanade got started bright and early, 7:00. We can’t see the water’s edge from here, so I can’t tell if the trucks are carrying rock down on the new beach road.
  • Latest speculation / wishful thinking heard in the neighborhood: move the building back towards the street.
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Long Term Displacement + Property Map

Wednesday December 23, 2009

  • 11:30 PM. San Mateo County Times Pacifica Evacuees may be displaced for year or more. The further reduction of the cliff tops behind 330 had been mentioned in other stories but in this one it is a central factor in renewed concerns for the habitability of 330 Esplanade. Apparently so much cliff has dropped away that you can see straight down onto the beach in places. This much loss of the cliff top invalidates existing plans for walls and rock, and may make the entire remediation project too expensive.
  • 11:15 PM. KGO-TV 7 Crews make progress on Pacifica cliff. Rush to get the rip rap in place before the next series of storms comes in next week. Seems to be succeeding. The engineer called the rip rap “the rock butress” – something to investigate.
  • 4:20 PM. In a story from last night KTVU.com reported residents will not be allowed to return until a permanent fix is in place – April at the earliest. Just days ago it had seemed they might return once the temporary fix was completed (before the end of the year). I may be wrong, but this seems to move the debate about payment for the fix to the fore. Evacuated Pacifica Residents May Not Be Able To Move Back Until April
  • 4:00 PM. KGO 7. In a story released at about 1:00 this afternoon, KGO reported Crews complete road down crumbling Pacifica cliff and that one of the cranes up on Esplanade will depart. Good picture with the story. While the wind was blowing hard enough to stop work this road seemed essential but by now, according to the story, about 80% of the work is done. If true, it’s hard to see how the road saves any work.
  • Just found this days-old item in the KGO 7 “live video” archive: Crews work into the night to place rocks. Video shows the process of placing a rock on the beach, then the crane lifting the rock box back to Esplanade for an excavator to load another rock.
  • More pictures from the work on Esplanade: Equipment on Esplanade – Photo Gallery
  • Thinking about the Zillow property map I found yesterday, I decided to track down a more official map of some sort. I finally found a good one at the San Mateo County Assessor Maps Retrieval System. The search returned a large compressed TIFF, and in hopes of making it a bit more accessible I’ve reduced it in size. Since the reason for the curiosity about property lines is to understand the reports of conflict among the Esplanade property owners about financial responsibilities for the cliff remediation, I’ve shaded the 360 Esplanade property area green, and 330 Esplanade in yellow. (Click the image for a larger version. Click the right side of an image for the next one.)
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Plans for Rock Road, Permits and Disputes, Hopes to be Done by Christmas in Doubt

Monday December 21, 2009

  • 11:30 PM. KGO ABC-7 Crews in Pacifica race to protect crumbling cliffs.
    • Interesting quote at 1 min 52 sec: “The property lines along this stretch of oceanfront show the boundary are complicated by the fact that the owners of the apartment complex at 360 Esplanade actually own a good deal of the beach in front of three neighboring apartments to the north.” (Presumably 350, 340 and 330) “Last week when waves were slamming onto the cliffs all the property owners agreed that emergency measures were needed but now that the immediate crisis has passed the old dispute of who should pay for what has resurfaced.
    • Graphic incorrect, showed road cut down through the “dog park” north of 320. The video itself showed a bulldozer at work south of the site, near the Post Office and Chit Chat Cafe.
  • Spelunking into the history of the situation turned up some nuggets:
  • 6:50 PM. Lots to digest in a somewhat chaotic item from NBC 11, KNTV on NBCBayArea.Com: Pacifica Residents Warned of Cliff Two Years Ago. More later. The main newsworthy item in this piece appeared to be the second paragraph, “Owners of the buildings on Esplanade Drive say they had applied for a permit to build a barrier at the base of the decaying bluff as early as 2007. But a neighboring building owner’s complaint prevented the wall from being built until last Thursday.” What makes this piece seem chaotic to me was the attempt to tie several strands of history and acrimony together in too short a form. The links on that article helped me understand a little more, but I’m becoming convinced that no more than a small handful of people really know the whole story or history. A vast number of people, on the other hand, are ready with blame and recriminations. Understandable and hopefully nothing I or the people I care about will need to engage.
  • 6:45 PM. KRON-4 TV has a lengthy report in their home page video player titled “Bad Weather Monday Doesn’t Slow Pacifica Repair Efforts”. Story asserts that work will not be done until after Christmas – first time I’d heard that. No indication of actual progress made. No clear idea of whether residents will be allowed to return after the rip rap is in place.
  • 6:22 PM. San Mateo Times reports of lowered expectations for rapid return for ex-residents of 330 Esplanade but fails to provide any real news about the progress made so far. In addition, Ruby Papp, the California Coastal Commission supervisor for our area said that in March of 2009 the Commission did grant the building owner the necessary permit for cliff construction or repairs. The building owner had previously denied that they had gotten the permit. This article indicated that construction / repairs did not take place due to a disagreement with a neighboring property owner over access. See the full article on InsideBayArea.com: Cliff now stable, but Pacifica apartments still unsafe.
  • 4:15 PM. Looking through my pictures I found one that shows the problems inherent in creating and using beach access to the base of the sea cliff at 330 Esplanade:

    Beach Rock, Surf and Empty Rock Box

    The plan to bring rock and excavators along the beach needed to address the dual problems of: rock blocking the beach; and, narrow, wave-washed sand

  • 12:53 PM. CBS 5 Pacifica Cliff-Shoring Operation Delayed. Confirmed work to get equipment down on the beach. New information: trucks to carry rock directly to the beach, much faster than the cranes; rip rap (rock) placed in previous years (?) in the way, as I said there’s no room down there. Weird detail… some sort of additional wall or barrier to protect the working equipment from waves. See the video for yourself.
  • 12:40 PM. Posted a number of my pictures: Excavator at Rock Pile – Photo Gallery. See the Fickr set for all of the images.
  • 10:30 AM. Two bits of news from KGO-TV Race continues to shore-up Pacifica cliff
  • One of the excavators moving rock broke down last night. Not surprising considering how much rock they’re moving, and how heavy. The KGO news video says they’ll have another soon (perhaps already have it as of now 10:30 AM).
  • Also from the KGO report, news that a road down to the beach will be rebuilt to allow equipment, probably excavators, to position rock more precisely and quickly. The video doesn’t say where the access “road” will be, but based on what I’ve seen it has to be going down from beside the intersection of Esplanade Ave and Manor Drive, next to the Chit Chat Cafe and the Post Office (see location in Google Maps).
  • There is no beach down there at high tide, or rather I should say it’s awash, so the equipment can be down there for the middle part of each low tide twice a day.

Crane Operations Can Threaten Structures

Watching the second crane hoisting boulders from the street, over 330 Esplanade Ave, and down to the base of the sea cliff, I noticed that as it was placing rock at the beach it was extended directly over the occupied 340 Esplanade apartment building. I guess this calculated risk was acceptable since the operators knew the weight of each load as they lifted it. Still it was creepy when they stopped a load mid-lift, high above the beach, and returned it to the street to remove a boulder. A fellow spectator reminded me of the crane collapse in Santa Rosa back on November 18th: ABC (KGO 7) report 50-ton crane slams into Santa Rosa home.

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Sunday December 20, 8:53 PM

Sunday December 20, 8:53 PM

  • Crews returned to work at about 7:00 AM Saturday and Sunday, continuing the painstaking process of building a rip rap rock barricade at the base of the sea cliff behind endangered 330 Esplanade Ave. A second crane joined the project Saturday. According to a crew member at the site, the second crane is doing the same basic task of putting rock at the base of the cliff, but is focused just to the south, below 340 Esplanade Ave. Both cranes carefully lift steel boxes of 3 to 4 ton rocks off the street then hoist them over the evacuated 330 building. Crew members again confirmed that these crane operations are the reason that apartment building was “red tagged” as unsafe for human occupancy (not due to a change in the cliff conditions as reported in the media). I’ll have my pictures from the weekend up in the next day or so.
  • Pacifica Riptide, Life on the Edge @ Esplanade: Gravity & Erosion, link to a virtual tour with three views made Friday. Direct link to the VR on Bay Area VR | 360° Virtual Tour Provider at Virtual Tour of Esplanade Avenue Where Apartments are Falling.
  • US Geological Survey archive of the 1997-98 El Niño Coastal Monitoring Program, Esplanade Drive, Pacifica. From that page: “Nine homes have been red-tagged in most critical area of coastal land loss in Central California. The cliffs here have been retreating at an average rate of about 2 feet/year since 1950, but retreated over 30 feet during two weeks in February 1998. Attempts were made in early January to emplace a seawall at the base of the cliffs. Winter storms rolled in and left the machinery stranded. Seven of these 9 homes have now been demolished.”
  • Interesting article on a national aggregation site, Examiner.com by local TV meteorologist Rob Mayeda (KNTV 11), see Crumbling coastline: Pacifica’s problems nothing new to the California coast (or just scroll down the page a bit).
  • Not much of note seemed to make it into the news today… mostly more of the same.
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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…

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