Santa Barbara- S County

Isla Vista apartment house holds up after structural piece falls into the ocean

No immediate issues for tenants

Structural caisson support beam falls into the ocean near two Isla Vista apartment houses.  (John Palminteri/

ISLA VISTA, Calif. - Erosion continues to work on the Isla Vista bluffs and this week, a caisson structural pole came down on the 6700 block.

It's now in the ocean below two multi-unit buildings.

Tenants sitting in the sun Wednesday were not aware of the issue until they were told and looked over the side.

Those who have lived in the building for months say that in the winter, the violent waves came up and over their deck and about six feet came apart. Fencing is still up and the overall impact is said to be minor.

Spencer Kaletta lives there with several other guys and said, "one of our roommates thinks he heard it but we hear the waves crashing against here all the time and we can't really tell the difference." 

Tenant Davis Bender said, "you feel the waves hitting against the walls and you see stuff falling all the time."

Wolf and Associates is the property manager. Ron Wolf and Chris Mercier say they were aware of the caisson and monitor the structural safety of their properties on a regular basis. They also work with geotechnical crews on current and future projects.

For those living there, Bender says they are not really concerned.

"This stuff happens all the time. We just keep doing our thing," said Bender.

They will be working on behalf of the owner to have the caisson removed from the surf line within a week.

Wolf and those living in the building say there is no risk of any other immediate collapse of any further structural poles or patio pieces at this time, but there is a coastal bluff retreat going on in the area.

Like many property owners and manager they have taken extra steps to add special drains and jute cloths on the bluffs to manage the erosion and water runoff.

The County is working on specific protocol guidelines for building owners in the future where bluff erosion is an issue that could be a safety problem. 

More information is coming out next week. 

Property owners have already had a meeting with the county to understand what bluff top loss would result in the secondary loss of at least a portion of some units.

In the past, buildings on the street have had to be reconstructed and reduced in size due to erosion and areas that have come apart and ending up in the ocean.

"I guess all these houses are going to go down one day," said resident Sean McGuiness.

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