Tag Archives: pacifica

Jan 18, 2010 – Current Watches and Warnings

Here are two ways to tell the story of the upcoming weather.

  1. Picture:

    from Pacifica Riptide, El Nino Is Back and, Boy, Is He Pissed!
  2. Words:


(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 more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade. You can see all of the pictures I’ve taken along Esplanade on Flickr at Evacuations at 330 Esplanade.)

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Sunday 01/17/10 – Work and Incoming Storm

Sunday 01/17/10

  • Early Start. Crews go to an early start on the beach below 320 Esplanade. Judging by the way the building shook, they were moving a terrific amount of rock but since I didn’t see activity down at the rock staging area by Chit Chat Cafe, I guess they were repositioning and tightening up the boulders already there. Were they taking advantage of a low tide before the storm hit? Not sure but that’s my guess.
  • Days Missing – ??. On Thursday we heard that a decision regarding the fate of 330 Esplanade might be released shortly. (See my notes from 1/14 below).  Curiously though, more than a week ago KTVU reported that owners and engineers would meet and we’d get a decision “early in the week” – say Monday or Tuesday 1/11 or 1/12. Some sort of meeting did happen, since the work on 310 and then 320 was approved. What happened with 330 Esplanade? Don’t know.
  • Speaking of the storm. MARINE WEATHER STATEMENT. This is in addition to the prodigious predicited rains… 4 or more inches in most areas to and 10+ inches in the coastal mountains (see Hydrologic Outlook).
    MARINE WEATHER STATEMENT
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
    449 AM PST SUN JAN 17 2010
    
    ...VERY LARGE SWELL EXPECTED LATE TUESDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY...
    
    .A SERIES OF STORM SYSTEMS WILL IMPACT THE COASTAL WATERS MUCH OF
    THE UPCOMING WEEK.
    
    A STRONG AREA OF LOW PRESSURE OFF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST COAST WILL
    HELP TO DIRECT A LARGE SWELL WITH A LONG FETCH TOWARD THE COAST.
    SEAS WILL BUILD THROUGH THE FIRST HALF OF NEXT WEEK AND ARE
    EXPECTED TO GENERALLY BE 25 FEET STARTING BY WEDNESDAY MORNING
    WITH SOME AREAS POSSIBLY SEEING CLOSE TO 30 FEET. IN
    ADDITION...THESE STORM SYSTEMS WILL ALSO BRING PERIODS OF GALE
    FORCE WINDS IN EXCESS OF 35 KT THROUGH OUT THE WEEK.
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Crane on Esplanade After the Crews Go Home

La Maîtresse de la Tour Eiffel | 2009 by Michel de Broin

La Maîtresse de la Tour Eiffel | 2009 by Michel de Broin

Nuit Blanche, City of Paris

Mirror ball, 1000 mirrors, 7.5 meters in diameter.

The spectacular view of the starry sky has long been a source of delight and curiosity, but the abundance of artificial light in urban areas produces a glow that covers the stars in the firmament. The largest mirror ball ever made was suspended from a construction crane 50 meters above the ground to render the starry sky to the citizens of Paris for one night in the Jardin du Luxembourg during the Nuit Blanche event.

Artist Bio

Born in 1970 in Montreal, Michel de Broin lives and works in Canada and Europe.

Through a collection of objects and actions, his works seek to escape the constraining nature of modern utopian aspirations whilst attempting to reenact them in playful, jesting objects that glorify the referent on the one hand while upstaging it on the other. Drawing on his doubt in the capacity and value of ideas, his sculptural projects seek to put them to the test by literally confronting them with the necessities of reality in assemblage that often troubles the ideas it purports to speak for.

Artist’s Site

http://www.micheldebroin.org

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Ocean Beach, outer coast, California Tide Times

Current tides at Ocean Beach. This chart should always be up-to-date. Click the graphic to go through to the originating site, Surf-Forecast.com, where you can get a lot more information about surf, weather, winds, etc. Good site.

(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 more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade.)

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Predictable, preventable erosion behind 310 Esplanade

Headlines:

  • The crane moved north on Esplanade this afternoon and at this hour is flying rock over the “dog park” and down to the beach at the corner of 310 Esplanade.
  • Good video and info at KTVU.COM, New Problem Emerges At Crumbling Pacifica Cliff.

This post could also be called “No easy answers for Esplanade Ave”. At least I don’t know them.

Commentary and analysis:

First, the latest events.

During the course of monitoring the surf-caused erosion behind the buildings along Esplanade Ave in Pacifica, engineers noticed a new problem. A substantial amount of dirt had fallen away from the northwest corner of 310 Esplanade, and with new storms on the way, the problem would only get worse. Unfortunately, this problem was predictable and should have been prevented. Still worse, solving this problem may just cause it to recur near by.

The short-term solution for 310 Esplanade was to armor the base of the bluff with rock rip rap as a temporary seawall. Luckily, or as the result of prudent planning, engineers still had a huge red crane standing by so they drove it north up Esplanade, planted it in place, and began using it to fly rock over the “dog park” and down to the beach. The crane is much slower than dump trucks and excavators, but the crane can operate safely during high tides and at night. Presumably, if crews can extend the existing temporary rock and sand road far enough, they will use it to move rock in the morning. There’s been a long term solution – a low, permanent seawall at waters edge and stitch piers at the top of the bluff – before the Coastal Commission for some time, and owners had planned (hoped) to have that work done in summer 2010.

Note that last week virtually the same problem arose at the south end of 320 Esplanade, at the end of the existing rip rap seawall. The solution was the same, and despite the recent storm there has been no further erosion.

Second, the implications for the residents of 310 Esplanade.

From past experience with this process at 330 Esplanade and based on the healthy amount of bluff remaining behind 310 Esplanade, we can say:

  • building up and extending the rip rap seawall at the base of the bluff should halt the surf erosion, at least for this winter, and residents should be able to stay.
  • the proximity of the open space “dog park” was fortunate, since the crane can operate in the space above it. If there was no open space then a building would have been evacuated in order for the crane to work. The work crew confirmed this after 330 Esplanade had been red tagged: if it had not been evacuated as unsafe because of the erosion, it would have been evacuated for the crane. (See Santa Rosa Crane Crashes into House)
  • residents in 310 Esplanade may want to stay alert, but may not need to move. If I lived in 310 Esplanade, I would not move – at least not yet.

Third, an incomplete rip rap seawall.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the buildings along Esplanade Ave had an incomplete rip rap sea wall. Last summer the plan was to place rip rap behind the buildings from 310 to 360 Esplanade. South of 360 is an open area that belongs to Pacifica, and north of 310 is a dog park. All of the wall was built except the portion behind 330 Esplanade. (I don’t know why no wall was built behind 330 Esplanade.)

These two images show the rip rap seawall about three months ago, as of 10/1/2009. The right photo is centered on the gap behind 330 Esplanade. The left photo shows the north end of the seawall as it ends behind 310 Esplanade. (Click an image to open the corresponding full page display from the California Coastal Records Project in a separate browser window / tab.)

.

And here is today’s image of 310 Esplanade from the KTVU.COM story. It’s easier to see in the video on the KTVU site that bluff top has fallen away just beyond the end of the rip rap.

Fourth, how this was predictable, preventable erosion.

In my post Crumbling coastline: Pacifica’s problems nothing new to the California coast (12/20) I linked to a post with the same title by KNTV meteorologist John Mayeda on Examiner.com.

Rob Mayeda was apparently unsurprised by the erosion behind 330 Esplanade. He explained that partial seawalls do not just block waves, they tend to shift and even focus waves’ erosive energy:

Seawalls are often used to protect structures from the ocean onslaught of storm driven surf. These artificial barriers have been shown to focus the ocean energy in areas around the sides of the seawall structure.

Mayeda illustrated the point with this info-graphic:

If we (I) had been paying attention, we would have been watching for erosion at the ends of the seawalls, not just to see if water over-topped the walls. (If you would like to learn more, the Cal State Monterey site, Monterey Bay Seawalls, has shown that the area behind a seawall may be relatively safe, and the areas at the sides of seawalls may not be.)

Conclusion.

After the major collapse of the bluff behind 330 Esplanade on December 17th action could have been taken to prevent the two significant falls behind 320 Esplanade on January 3rd, and 310 Esplanade on January 13th. In both cases quick work seemed to halted further falls, and for 320 Esplanade at least,  prevented erosion during a substantial storm. It seems possible that equally small, quick efforts would have prevented the additional falls entirely.

(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 more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade. You can see all of the pictures I’ve taken along Esplanade on Flickr at Evacuations at 330 Esplanade.)

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January Behind 330 Esplanade – Photo Gallery

After last night’s waves and rain died down I got out and grabbed some photos of the current state of the bluff behind 330 Esplanade. The full height (depth?) of the pilings or piers supporting a retaining wall beneath the patio are clearly visible. I’d guess they are about 1/3 exposed at this point. In addition, I clearly saw (and captured) a fresh but fairly unimportant dirt fall.

It is hard for me to imagine how the building is to saved at this point, but if the owners come up with the money I guess it could be done. Note that as far as I know, the expense for all work since the first big fall on December 17 has been borne by the owners – nobody else.


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 more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade.)

You can see this set of pictures on Flickr: January Behind 330 Esplanade

And all of my Esplanade pictures on Flickr: Evacuations at 330 Esplanade, Pacifica CA

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Wednesday 01/13/10, 9PM. Real problems now behind another building, 310 Esplanade

  • Wednesday 01/13/10, 9PM. Real problems now behind another building, 310 Esplanade.
  • Wednesday 01/13/10, 5PM.
  • Wednesday 01/13/10, 10AM. Continued waiting.
    • owners’ decisions on what will happen next. See below and my post After the Initial Crisis, Questions about Direction and Cost.
    • weather. The high surf warning remains in effect, but somewhat lower waves have been observed at off-shore buoys and stormsurf.com. Heights in the 13′ to 18′ range have been reported and even at the predicted 6.4 high tide seem to be at or below the height of the rip rap.
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Tuesday 01/12/10. Waiting for Owners’ Decisions, Weather and Surf

Tuesday 01/12/10. Waiting for:

  • owners’ decisions on what they’ll do next for 330 Esplanade. According to Steve O’Connor of Engineered Soil Repairs (January 6th): “they can’t just leave it unrepaired because it’s going to threaten the neighbors and the road. They do have some responsibility to prevent this from impinging on others.” See my post, After the Initial Crisis, Questions about Direction and Cost.
  • weather. Various media reports but this was the best: KGO TV, ABC7. Storm prompts urgent repairs on Pacifica cliff. See the piece for current pictures and context. Most interesting to me were these quotes from Project superintendent Tony Fortunato of Engineered Soils Repair: “We’re going to tune up what we have down there, try to raise rock up and get it around 30 feet high, its about 22 to 25 feet,” said Forunato. “We’ve got the crane onsite. If we got any dire need like we did last time, we can always start throwing rock over the building again. If we can’t get on the beach, that’s another option, but hopefully we’ll be able to tune it up enough to weather this storm — that’s the hope,” said Forunato.
  • High Surf Warning, Coastal Flood Warning, Tuesday 10:00 PM to Thursday 4:00 AM (Link)
    COASTAL HAZARD MESSAGE
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
    305 PM PST TUE JAN 12 2010
    
    ...COASTAL FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 4
    AM PST THURSDAY... ...HIGH SURF WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM
    THIS EVENING TO 4 AM PST THURSDAY... 
    
    A COASTAL FLOOD WARNING AND A HIGH SURF WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM
    10 PM THIS EVENING TO 4 AM PST THURSDAY. 
    
    LARGE AND LONG PERIOD SWELL WILL IMPACT THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL
    CALIFORNIA COAST TONIGHT. WAVES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SWELL ARE EXPECTED
    TO REACH AT LEAST 20 FEET WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 18 SECONDS. THESE
    LARGE POWERFUL WAVES WILL PRODUCE LARGE BREAKING WAVES AND STRONG RIP
    CURRENTS WITHIN THE SURF ZONE. PLEASE USE CAUTION AND KEEP AN EYE OUT
    FOR SNEAKER WAVES WHILE VISITING THE CALIFORNIA BEACHES DURING THIS TIME
    PERIOD. 
    
    PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... 
    
    A COASTAL FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLOODING IS OCCURRING OR IMMINENT.
    COASTAL RESIDENTS IN THE WARNED AREA SHOULD BE ALERT FOR RISING
    WATER...AND TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY. THIS
    MAY ALSO LEAD TO AREAS OF BEACH EROSION. 
    
    A HIGH SURF WARNING INDICATES THAT DANGEROUS...BATTERING WAVE WILL POUND
    THE SHORELINE. THIS WILL RESULT IN VERY DANGEROUS SWIMMING
    CONDITIONS...AND DEADLY RIP CURRENTS. ADDITIONAL BEACH EROSION IS
    POSSIBLE.
    
    High tide data for the golden gate:
    11:21 PM TUESDAY  4.8 FEET
    9:40  AM WEDS     6.3 FEET
    11:57 PM WEDS     4.8 FEET
    10:19 AM THURS    6.2 FEET
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Monday 01/11/10 (Palindrome day) – No Mavericks Competition

Monday 01/11/10 (Palindrome day)

  • There will be huge waves at Mavericks Wednesday, but the forecast winds and weather made the surf competition hold out for better conditions. Click the picture for a wave from Sunday and see the Mavericks Surf website for a photo gallery.
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Thursday 1/7/2009 – Residents Briefly Return

Thursday 1/7/2009

  • Finally: KGO-TV 7, Residents visit threatened Pacifica apartment. Folks were given a few minutes to retrieve the last of their belongings.
  • Resident report that more dirt fell last night from the bluff on Esplanade, but I don’t have a clear idea of the location. UPDATE: no other confirmation of this… it might have been a delayed reaction from Sunday.
  • Nice clear description of the most ambitious / expensive repair plan in this KPIX CBS5 TV report Engineers Work on Saving Pacifica Cliff. After a slow start, the piece has nice video and archive pictures that show the huge loss of the bluff to erosion.
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What happens next may depend upon the building

KTVU.com, PACIFICA: Owners Of Cliffside Home May Pay For Guard Against Forces Of Nature [John Fowler] – Video – KTVU San Francisco

According to this KTVU story the emergency repairs that added rock rip rap to base of the bluff are all but done, and it is time for owners of the effected buildings along Esplanade Ave. to decide what sort of permanent fix should be done. Today engineers and the building owners met to review options and prices, and a follow-up meeting to discuss owners’ decision is planned for the beginning of next week. The story quotes an estimated cost for repairs at about $1 million and supposes that the cost might possibly be shared by 4 owners. Aside from some pretty pictures and an ominous mention of high waves this weekend (it’s winter and it’s the Pacific – can you say potential for “Mavericks” surf competition?) that’s about it.

Unfortunately, John Fowler, the correspondent in the piece, did not address the critical difference between the problems faced by the 330 Esplanade owners, and that of the neighboring buildings along the bluff. Mr. Fowler also did not mention a permit application already before the Coastal Commission, but it’s unclear to me whether that will ultimately matter much.

330 Esplanade had been “red tagged” – deemed unsafe for human occupancy – and the rock had only stabilized the building’s structure. According to Pacifica (building inspector? sorry, I’m not sure), people will not be allowed back inside until a permanent fix is in place. The neighboring buildings along the bluff were probably never in danger, though the rock rip rap behind them was built up, too. At this point they don’t seem to need any more attention to weather the rest of the winter.

So the owners of 330 Esplanade urgently need 40 foot horizontal soil nails to reinforce the top of the bluff, stronger wave-level armoring, and possibly a full-height concrete sea wall. All that does sound expensive. Meanwhile the other owners may have no urgent need for work to rescue their property at all. No urgent need, but in fact the other buildings do need additional work done to the bluff.

The building owners are currently waiting for the Coastal Commission to take action on a permit application dating back to late 2008 or early 2009. While I have not seen the application myself it has been reported to include sinking a concrete wall 15 feet below sea level to deflect the velocity of the ocean’s waves, and a concrete-and-steel stitch pier retaining wall sunk into the top of the cliff to hold the bluff together. I understand the owners expect to get the permit approved and planned to get the work done this summer, perhaps starting in June.

Since I don’t know more, and I’m neither a part of the engineering team nor a building owner, I can’t judge how similar or different the urgent work is versus the planned permit before the Coastal Commission. I also don’t know if the existing permit application complicates things for the owners. Also unknown (to me) – can the new work be OK’d as emergency repairs, since that seemingly short-circuits the normal slow / conservative Coastal Commission, and would that allow the pending work to start as well? I think it’s safe to guess that work done on an emergency basis during the winter will cost more than if it’s scheduled and during the summer.

Given the different challenges facing the owners of 330 Esplanade and the other owners on the street, I would not be surprised to hear that they want to take different actions, and spend different amounts of money.

The KTVU story’s conclusion was quite correct, we need to wait to hear what the owners decide.

(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 more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade.)

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After the Initial Crisis, Questions about Direction and Cost

As work on the rock rip rap installed and built-up at the base of bluffs behind the apartment buildings on Esplanade Ave in Pacifica wraps up, attention turned to the options, stumbling blocks, and costs of permanent repairs.

Julia Scott of the San Mateo County Times reported this evening on making the buildings safe to be occupied in an excellent article, Owners face costly options for saving imperiled Pacifica apartment complex.

I’ll summarize the highlights that caught my eye and editorialize and extrapolate a bit, but there’s a lot more to Ms. Scott’s fine article and I urge you to read it yourself.

Apparently the near-total loss of the bluff behind 330 Esplanade means that a sea-wall at the beach, the seemingly typical approach to reverse and prevent damage from waves and tide, will not be enough to make the building habitable. Work will have to be done at the top of the cliff to reinforce and hold it. Before any work could start though, plans need to be drafted and then presented to the Coastal Commission for a work permit. In addition to the time required just to get the permit, this approach appears to face several major problems: it’s expensive and the building owner hasn’t approved the cost; it would be necessary to convince Pacifica officials to allow residents to return without the buffer of the wider bluff-top; and, owners of neighboring buildings may be asked to spend their own money to extend the repair along the bluff.

Meanwhile the neighboring buildings do not seem to be facing a similar threat from the collapsing bluff. Even though a noteworthy chunk of cliff dropped away from the south behind 320 Esplanade, engineers did not see it as serious. “Unfortunate,” Tony Fortunato of Engineered Soil Repairs called it, and the property was thoroughly inspected and measured, but the work on the rock rip rap at the base of the bluff was judged to be good enough to protect the building.

Doing nothing beyond the rip rap is not an option for the owners of 330 Esplanade according to Steve O’Connor of Engineered Soil Repairs: “they can’t just leave it unrepaired because it’s going to threaten the neighbors and the road. They do have some responsibility to prevent this from impinging on others.” I’ve seen the cliff behind 330 Esplanade and I agree that doing nothing is not an option, but I’m not sure that the owners of that building are the ones who will step up and do something.

The silence from the owners of 330 Esplanade seems noteworthy to me, though I guess reporters such as Ms. Scott are getting plenty of current information from the company hired to do the work, Engineered Soil Repairs, and a representative, possibly the building manager (I’m not sure), Bart Willoughby. Apparently there are more meetings between the engineers, the owners and the city planned for this week, so perhaps we’ll know more soon.

Beyond engineers and regulations, permits and plans, there is so much that has not been discussed or revealed that I barely know where to start. Why was no rock put at the shore behind 330 Esplanade this summer, when rock was put behind the other buildings? Isn’t “doing nothing” almost certainly a very viable option for the owners of 330 Esplanade? The building is no longer a profitable business, at least for quite some time to come. Couldn’t they just default on a mortgage, walk away, or do something else that would require the property to be foreclosed. Once the property is the bank’s or Pacifica’s hands, wouldn’t they just demolish it and be done with the whole problem? (Maybe that’s too simple because the bluff erosion is already threatening the neighboring buildings, but no one has said that yet.) I understand that several property owners along Esplanade already have an outstanding permit application before the Coastal Commission for the bluff; what is that work for, and what is the status of the application? (I’m not certain but Ms. Scott may already have answered this here.) Finally – where are the lawyers? This is California, isn’t it?

(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 more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade.)

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