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Pacifica to demolish yet another apartment complex on crumbling bluff

Officials of the city of Pacifica in San Mateo County announced plans Thursday to demolish a second apartment complex sitting on the edge of a crumbling seaside cliff, saying the structure posed “a clear danger.”

As powerful winds, rain and surf pummeled the coast Thursday morning, city officials said they feared a vacant apartment building at 310 Esplanade would fall due to deterioration of the bluffs. A city building official and geotechnical consultant determined the building posed a threat to public health and recommended it be demolished “as soon as possible,” officials said. A date for the demolition has not been set.

“Storm-driven waves have accelerated erosion of the adjacent bluffs presenting a clear danger to residents, and demolishing this structure is the only way to prevent it from crumbling to the beach below,” City Manager Lorie Tinfow said in a statement.

In January, El Niño-related storms forced city officials to declare the building at 310 Esplanade Avenue unsafe and residents were asked to leave their homes. Portions of the eroding cliff had collapsed into the ocean after rains hammered the coastal Bay Area city.

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The building was constructed in the 1960s and contains hazardous materials, city officials said.

In March, a neighboring 20-unit apartment building, which had also been determined to be dangerous for residents, was demolished. The building had been closed since 2010 when city officials declared it hazardous.

The two buildings are owned by Millard Tong, who city officials say has been aware of the bluff’s condition and filed for bankruptcy in 2015.

A third building on the same stretch of coast was also demolished by a private owner during the winter.

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City officials said beach access near apartment buildings at 100 Esplanade was closed after a 15-foot sinkhole appeared in the bluffs. The city has asked a geotechnical consultant to examine the deteriorating cliff. 

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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