Parks officials warn beach visitors of potential bluff collapses


ENCINITAS, Calif. – A small portion of a bluff collapsed Wednesday at San Elijo State Beach, state parks officials said.

The collapse was reported at about noon near Lifeguard Tower 16 at the south part of the campground, said Jorge Moreno, an information officer at California State Parks. No injuries were reported as a result of the collapse.

“State Parks would like to remind visitors that rockslides and cliff collapses occur without notice,” Moreno said in an emailed statement.

Pat Abbott, professor emeritus of geology at San Diego State University, said bluff collapses are becoming more common in San Diego’s coastal communities. Given that the ground surface is paved over with asphalt, Abbott said it “makes you feel reassured like you are on firm ground.”

But the water flowing underneath the asphalt erodes it away and weakens the upper part of the cliff.

“No surprise that these things fail,” Abbott said. “Other that we don’t know the moment they are going to fail, but these are totally expected kinds of events.”

La Jolla resident Fabiola Hernandez says she enjoys spending her time along the coast, but thinks cities should make residents and visitors more aware about potential bluff collapses.

“If the state can do something about it, that will be great,” she said. “If you can ask for signatures and go to the board or a foundation that can do something about it as a community.”

If communities unite on the issue, change can be done, she said.

“Encinitas, Solana Beach, all the north county community – maybe if everyone sticks together, they can do something about it,” she said. “They can hear you. The more, the better.”

In 2019 – three women were killed in Encinitas when a large bluff collapsed on top of them.

Abbott wants to remind residents and visitors to always be aware of your surroundings.

“Since you know those cliffs are liable to come down at any time act accordingly,” he said. “Walk away from them. Don’t sit down next to them and respect them basically, aesthetically, and (know) that they do have the potential to seriously interfere with your life.”

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