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Crews Try To Stop Pacifica Sinkhole From Growing

PACIFICA (CBS SF) – Workers pumped truckload after truckload of sand and concrete into a 15-foot deep sinkhole along a beach in Pacifica in the hopes of stopping the hole from growing Monday.

The sinkhole opened up over the weekend on private property along a cliff face in Pacifica, destroying a pathway and blocking access to a public beach.

Workers scrambled down the Pacifica cliffside to guide a long tubular boom into place in the middle of the sinkhole that opened up after the latest round of storms.

Work crews then pumped in truckloads of sand and concrete in an effort to save the popular beach access trail.

Neighbor Rick Ghigliazza measured rainfall himself at an inch and a half Saturday. There was top down erosion that combined with big wave action from the bottom to doom the trail sometime Sunday morning.

"It's just an ongoing thing. Every year more and more of the cliff goes," said Ghigliazza. "Something undermined out of the bottom and a sinkhole just opened up."

The property is the responsibility of the owners of an apartment complex called Oceanaire Apartments on Esplanade Avenue, according to Pacifica City Manager Lorie Tinfow.

Over the weekend, someone associated with Land's End blocked access to a trail that leads down to the beach and put up a sign reading "beach access closed."

"They put up the sign and roped off the access to the beach over the weekend," Tinfow said in a statement. "The City did not play a role in those activities."

The city manager told KPIX 5 Pacifica has nothing to do with getting this fixed.

Photos and video posted on social media sites show a large gap in the earth that has partially destroyed the path.

People who live nearby came to see how big the hole had grown to Monday morning. Some said that the hole started out small and gradually grew to its current size over the past couple of days.

Heavy rains and big waves continue to add to the erosion problem in the area.

The sinkhole is near the site of an apartment complex at 320 Esplanade Ave. that was demolished in March due to massive cliff-side erosion that threatened to pull the building into the ocean.

Others who live in the nearby apartments aren't concerned for their safety, but they are disappointed that they can't get to the beach.

"I walk here all the time. I don't think that anyone here is terribly afraid of that, unless you're walking down there, of course," said area resident Rebecca Watry. "But I don't think any of us anticipated this. We've seen waves up pretty high and the king tides are bad every year, but this is the worst I've seen it."

A pathway was added as part of a restoration project, making it easy for people to get down to Esplanade Beach, but that isn't the case anymore.

The costly new effort may bring the trail back within days, but as always, the question with anything built on the cliffs is how long it will last.

"It's kind of the exciting thing about living here. Watching Mother Nature doing her thing every year," said Ghigliazza.

The cost of the concrete is being paid for by the company that owns the apartment complex. As part of its lease agreement, the company is required to maintain beach access and could face fines for the days when there isn't beach access available.

© Copyright 2016 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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