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45 people allowed back into an Isla Vista home with a broken balcony over the ocean

Isla Vista slide
John Palminteri
Isla Vista slide
John Palminteri

ISLA VISTA, Calif. - After a shocking snap of their balcony following days of rain, residents have retiurned to an Isla Vista four unit home with a warning to stay away from the deck.

The main portion of the building is on solid ground.

Inspectors with Santa Barbara County have looked at the site, in an area that has a history of erosion.

Marborg Industries, working with the property owner and the county, came in with fencing to block off the dangerous areas.

The balcony is about 40-feet above the beach and it has been pounded by storm driven waves. King Tides are coming later this week, which will add another level of concern.

Passersby on the beach say they have seen other areas of concern as well.

Isla Vista resident Kellan Foley said, "I woke up and they had us evacuate."

The Isla Vista coastline is known for its history of erosion and some buildings have been cut back to keep residents safe.
Foley said, "I am not like worried about it . Where we are sleeping at we just wake up,  it would be the deck but not our room and stuff.  It has been a precaution, it is in our  lease and stuff that this could happen."

A county building inspector says he saw something similar, at the edge of a structure,  five years ago.

Carl Lindberg was on the beach taking pictures and also on the bluffs.  "2019  about this time off they year,  big rains land gets soft,  that was pretty unusual that reshaped much of the bluffs policy."    

Resident say there are several other locations that could be just as  vulnerable"

A nearby resident has been keeping an eye on several properties that continuously fall apart and into the ocean.

Jay Johnson said, "It's bound to happen. I surf out in front of those houses all the time and you can see the erosion where the houses and the  property line was 15 -20 years ago."

The area was personally inspected by County Supervisor Laura Capps who heard about the slide during the weekly meeting.

Capps said,  "there's still risks like bluffs caving like we had this morning of trees falling down stay vigilant for the next few days do go to the edge." She said there will be a town hall meeting next week to talk about the bluffs and risks.

One resident said the waves this time around were huge and very explosive against the properties.

"I hear this big thunder noise or whatever and then this huge wave comes up and over the patio," said Max VonWinckelmann.

For those living a couple of buildings away it was unsettling.

Kevin Smith said,  "as terrible as it might be for them I'm glad it was  any other decks as well."

There's erosion under balconies at several addresses. Raheem Nisar said looking at both sides of where he lives, "that one is completely collapsed and the one right next to us  is all vacant I just assumed were were fine."
These neighbors are going to be watching the broken bluffs very closely in the days ahead.

"I think so I think the rest of that dirt pile is going to fall right off and some of the fence too for sure," said Michael Gray

Capps also said, “The storms underscore the pressing need for bluff and cliff safety, as seen by a bluff facing balcony collapse at a private property in IV (Tuesday) morning. Thankfully no injuries have been reported and we are working with our public safety officials to evacuate the surrounding area.

I am committed to do everything we can to keep our community safe, including constructing higher, durable fences along bluff properties in IV and educating students about the inherent dangers. While the heaviest of the rains is behind us, please remain exceedingly vigilant as bluff erosion continues to be a real threat.”

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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