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State lawmaker seeks help for Pacifica residents living on crumbling cliff

As apartment buildings on a crumbling Pacifica cliffside teeter on the brink of collapse, a state lawmaker has called for federal assistance in helping residents and city officials cope with damage from recent El Niño rainstorms.

Pledging to seek assistance for Pacifica residents, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) surveyed the disintegrating rocky bluff Wednesday with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

“This is a profound natural disaster,” Speier said.

California has $30 million for natural disasters, but Pacifica officials will need to compete with other cities to get their share of the money to pay for the damage, she said. Speier promised to seek state and federal aid.

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Portions of the eroding cliff collapsed into the sea as recent rains battered the coastal Bay Area city, about 15 miles south of San Francisco. As the buildings teeter on the cliff’s edge, city officials were forced to declare a 20-unit apartment building on the 300 block of Esplanade Avenue as unsafe, and urged residents to leave their belongings.

However, some residents refused to leave despite city officials’ declaring a local emergency.

Resident Michelle Mackay told KPIX-TV she was staying because of financial hardships.

“We’re living paycheck to paycheck and month to month,” she told the news station. “We just don’t have it, and there’s nowhere to go. There’s nowhere to go.”

City officials set up assistance with the American Red Cross and the Pacifica Resource Center for displaced residents.

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“This is a significant issue for the city of Pacifica, the county of San Mateo and the state of California,” Speier said.

El Niño storms also caused devastation to Pacifica Pier and the Milagra Watershed and triggered the failure of a seawall along Beach Boulevard and Santa Maria Avenue.

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