Cliff Dwellers Try to Save Their Homes

Before the mighty Pacific gouges more out of their blufftop setting, some Ocean Beach property owners want the city's permission to tax themselves for a seawall.
It would be just the second private undertaking of its kind south of Solana Beach.
Under the state's Public Resource Code, private landowners can form a "geological hazard abatement district." Thirteen years ago, the city set up the first process for the blufftop Casa De La Playa condo complex in Ocean Beach.
Now, condo owners in the Oceanus complex, a block south, are banding together to shore up their shaky underpinnings.
"We're ready to wake up and think we'll be swimming in the ocean," said Allen Bloom, a condo owner and attorney who organized the required petition campaign to form the private assessment district that will build the seawall. "We're going to have to wear snorkel gear if we don't get it."
A giant bluff collapse eight months ago seriously undermined the ocean-facing patio, leaving it with cracks and three feet of cement hanging unsupported
"We're told we have one more season; we're told we have one more winter," Bloom noted in an interview Thursday. "And if we don't have a seawall in place, we're going to lose the cliff, the structure and people's lives -- and it's going to be a catastrophe."
They figure it will cost $750,000 for the seawall and sand to replenish the mini-beaches below the crumbling cliffs at the foot of Bermuda Avenue, along Pescadero Drive.
The owner of two duplex apartment houses next door will chip in along with the condo owners.
The geological situation is so risky, they can't get insurance coverage.
Tenants are bracing for the inconvenience that would come with all the construction work.
"I'm sure we don't like the noise, but it's a means to an end," said Dustin Randall, who recently moved into one of the duplex apartments.
"I'd be more concerned if I owned it," Randall added when asked if another collapse would make the unit unsafe for occupancy. "But just being a renter, if it happens, then we'll just move out. It's not really a concern for me. Just as long as I'm not in the water when it happens."
The geological hazard abatement district petition goes before the City Council on Monday.
The property owners are miffed that the city wants to charge them $15,000 in processing fees on top of what they would need to pay to privately finance the seawall project.

Contact Us