Construction Company Hired to Fix Ladera Street Stairs Given Waiver for Summer Moratorium

by on July 30, 2018 · 10 comments

in Ocean Beach

The construction company that contracted with the City of San Diego to fix the Ladera Street stairs at Sunset Cliffs has been given a waiver for the summer moratorium on all public construction projects.

The company, Orion Construction Corporation, was sent a letter on July 23 from the deputy director of the Public Works Department informing them they have a waiver from the normal moratorium “due to the emergency nature” of the project. Orion was granted a “Construction Beach Moratorium Waiver” until August 31, 2018.

The waiver lasts from July 23 to August 31. No work on the repairs to the accessory stair way have been seen as of late last week. This reporter visited the site on Friday, July 27, and nothing new had been added to the small gate at the top of the stairs.

The Beach Construction Moratorium was put in place years ago to avoid public construction projects tying up and blocking streets at the busy, busy coast during the summer months.

The Ladera Street Beach Access Stairway has needed repairs for many months. On February 14, the OB Rag reported the stairs’ closure. Here’s our report:

The city of San Diego has closed the cliff top stairs that lead to the rocks and beaches below at the foot of Ladera Street in Point Loma’s Sunset Cliffs. And the city said the stairs will remain closed while staff studies what has happened and why.

At first a major crack appeared along side of the bluff – and then a portion of the cliff gave way by Tuesday, Feb. 13th. Lifeguards closed the stairs off – and city staff met to discuss and study the situation and figure out what to do.

Seismologist and San Diego State professor Dr. Pat Abbot, Ph.D. told CBS8News:

“This is a life threatening sort of situation. These things become domino-like. One mass falls away and then that makes it ready for the next mass to fall away – coming down one after another.”

Dr. Abbot – the “go-to-guy” for local media on Sunset Cliff crumbles and cracks – added, ominously:

“Frankly, there is nothing to investigate. You have a very unstable cliff. You absolutely do not want people walking down there because it’s just a matter of timing.”

Crack that appeared prior to collapse. screengrab from CBS8News.

Apparently, many are ignoring the warning signs despite the dangers inherent in unstable cliffs – if the immediate bluffs are unstable. CBS8

Here’s the letter to Orion Construction Corp.:

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page July 30, 2018 at 1:19 pm

I was at a meeting when the city explained this work. The stairs themselves are fine, the problem is the cracked bluff that is shown here. The city is only working to do an “emergency” stabilization of the bluff face. This will probably involve some anchoring and some kind of steel netting intended to hold the cracked piece in place so it won’t lean further from the bluff and eventually collapse. The use of the “emergency” designation is how they got around the moratorium and probably a host of Coastal Commission requirements. If a permanent fix is designed, it will have to go through Coastal review.


Tyler July 30, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Interesting. Thank you for the summary. I’m really happy to see this exception – so many tourists walking down anyway and just sitting directly below the unstable section of the cliff.


Peter from South O July 30, 2018 at 2:30 pm

This is the defined scope of work:

Coastal bluffs must be stabilized to reduce the risk of falling rocks 
Work will include scaling potential loose material from the vertical cliff face and grading back terrace deposits above the vertical face at a 1:1 slope
Slope will then be revegetated
Contractor will verify proper drainage in the area, including inspection of existing 24-inch storm drain
Drainage issues will be addressed if they are found to be impactful to the stabilization of the slope


triggerfinger July 30, 2018 at 4:50 pm

That crack isn’t going to fix itself. So should we sit and wait 3 years for it to fall? 5 years? 20 years?
Someone needs to drop a few M80s in there.


nostalgic July 31, 2018 at 11:04 am

This means cutting back the cliff face. Who designed it? What is their experience with the ocean?


Peter from South O August 1, 2018 at 7:47 am

Orion Construction out of Vista got the contract:


nostalgic August 1, 2018 at 8:09 am

I am having trouble finding the Emergency Permit. Where did you find the scope of work? The project number on the letter doesn’t go there.


Peter from South O August 1, 2018 at 8:23 am

Here is a PDF summary of the project funding shuffle that the City did to pay for the emergency repairs


nostalgic August 1, 2018 at 4:38 pm

A one to 1 slope cut is a 45 degree angle. So, how high is the cliff? Won’t this cut into Sunset Cliffs Blvd. at the top?


Peter from South O August 2, 2018 at 5:03 am

You missed a key item in the scope of work:

“grading back terrace deposits ABOVE THE VERTICAL FACE at a 1:1 slope”


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