The Pacifica cliffs have been crumbling for decades, but the pace has steadily increased as sediment from the San Francisco Bay, which sustained the beaches and protected the cliffs, has been greatly reduced by damming, water diversion and dredging. Increasing sea level rise will only exacerbate the problem; but by then, the buildings will likely be long gone.
"I filmed a small portion of a very large problem with that city," Duncan Sinfield, an assignment editor at KTVU told The New York Times. "It's got to be happening a lot more often. We're just not seeing it."
VIDEO: How Scary Sinkholes Are Formed
Three apartment buildings have been evacuated since 2010, and following El Nino storms in January, city officials declared an emergency and condemned 20 apartments, warning residents to pack their belongings and move out. Several are planning to stay as long as they can, and some have expressed their indignation at being told to leave, but others are resigned to their fate.
"I can't continue to have a professional work life, and social life as well, not knowing if I come home and my property is not going to be there," resident Michael McHenry told CBS News. "It's not a way to live."