Pacifica aims to demolish apartments on edge of coastal cliff

PACIFICA (BCN) -- The city of Pacifica intends to demolish a vacant apartment building on the edge of an unstable coastal cliff, with or without the blessing of its owner, city officials said Thursday.

The city declared the building at 310 Esplanade Ave. uninhabitable in January after it became clear that it was seriously threatened by erosion of the nearby cliff face.

"Since (the owner) has refused to take responsibility for his property to date, the City has no choice but to step in to make sure the building is removed in an organized and safe manner," Pacifica City Manager Lorie Tinfow said in a statement Thursday.

Owner Millard Tong has long known about the dangerous and deteriorating cliff conditions but "filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and has largely neglected" his property, Tinfow said.

The city says it is trying to work with Tong's lawyer to gain access to the building. A date for the demolition to begin has not yet been set.

Tong was also the owner of the adjacent apartments at 320 Esplanade Ave., which the city demolished in March after discovering similar cliffside erosion problems.

The demolition was estimated to cost $200,000, and the city said at the time that it would try to recoup the money from Tong.

City officials also filed a criminal complaint against Tong and on Feb. 23 he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors.

He was sentenced to three years' probation and told to cooperate with the city as it removed the building.

Another building, at 330 Esplanade Ave., was demolished in February by its owner, according to city officials.

The whole area around the apartments is unstable and a nearby trail that leads to a public beach was severely damaged over the weekend when a huge sinkhole opened up directly underneath it.

The trail is maintained by the owners of the Oceanaire Apartment complex, Trinity Property Consultants, and the company is currently working to repair it.