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Local Assemblymember proposes warning system for bluff collapses

Posted at 6:55 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 00:26:47-04

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) -- San Diego's beaches are crowded with spring breakers and locals enjoying the warm weather.

Beaches in Del Mar were busy Monday afternoon. There were also plenty of people ignoring signs to stay off the cliffs and train tracks.

Harvey Oringher has lived near the bluffs for decades. He sees it all the time.

"Of course, it makes me nervous, but at the same time, I don't think you can stop people from enjoying the beauty of nature here, and I think it shouldn't," said Harvey Oringher.

Monday morning, a 10News drone camera captured a reminder of why he gets nervous. A large chunk of the bluffs fell just last month south of 4th Street. Repairs are expected to last months.

"We walk a lot, I see the cliffs falling down in Solana Beach more than here," said one man.

Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath is sponsoring a bill to set aside 2.5 million dollars for Scripps Institution of Oceanography to study why the cliffs collapse and ideally develop some sort of early warning system.

Mark Zumberge is a Scripps Geophysicist.

"The important thing to do at the beginning is do a careful study and make measurements. We're using technologies that weren't available a few years ago, and we hope by applying those technologies we can really understand what happens," said Zumberge.

Oringher is skeptical.

"I'm not optimistic that there can be a warning system, and I think there will be a lot more tragedy if we think that is the solution. The real solution is to move the trains off this track," said Oringher.

Zumberg admits they can't say for sure.

"We don't know if warnings are possible. We think they are, but in order to find out if they are, we need to learn the dynamics of what happens leading up to the failure," said Zumberg.

If the bill is approved, Scripps would start the research at the end of the year. The study is expected to last up to five years.