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Residents Leave Pacifica Apartment Building On Cliff Deemed Unsafe

PACIFICA (CBS SF) -- Residents of a Pacifica apartment building at the edge of a bluff have been told to start moving out because of the unstable cliff being battered by El Niño-fueled waves.

The Pacifica City Council held a meeting on the local state of emergency Monday night and some residents used it as an opportunity to express their desire to stay in their homes. Some felt that their homes were not at risk and that they should be allowed to stay.

The City of Pacifica on Monday said the apartments at 310 Esplanade Avenue are no longer safe to live in and assigned the building a "yellow-tag" status. It is the third apartment building on that street to be deemed uninhabitable because of the eroding cliff.

Residents from the 20 apartments are only allowed to remove their belongings and access is now limited to just that activity, according to a press release from the city manager's office.

One resident of 310 Esplanade who was busy packing said he was already resigned to leaving before Monday's announcement.

"I can't continue to have a professional work life and a social life and come home and not know if my property is gonna be there," said resident Michael McHenry. "It's no way to live."

McHenry said there was a close call Saturday during the most recent storm, when a balcony from the building next door – which had been red-tagged years ago - collapsed onto the rocks below it. "We heard a BOOM-BOOM! 'What the hell was that?' Right as we walked out the door," he said.

320 and 330 Esplanade Ave. were red-tagged in 2010 and are to be demolished, city officials said.

On Friday, Pacifica's city manager declared a state of local emergency because the storm damage in several areas of the city, including along the seawall at Beach Blvd. near Santa Maria Ave. The designation allows the city to pursue state and federal funding for repairs.

"Over a long period of time, the ocean takes a lot of land," said California Coastal Commission analyst Bart Willoughby. "The ocean always wins."

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