A skip loader was brought in to clear away the dense, heavy debris.
Bluffs give way four to eight times a year in Southern California, but “nothing of this magnitude,” said Brian Ketterer, southern field division chief of California State Parks.
“This is a naturally eroding coastline,” Encinitas Lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles said. “There’s really no rhyme or reason, but that’s what it does naturally. …. This is what it does, and this is how are beaches are actually partially made. It actually has these failures.”
Suburbs north of San Diego have contended with rising water levels in the Pacific Ocean, pressuring bluffs along the coast. Some bluffs are fortified with concrete walls to prevent multimillion-dollar homes from falling into the sea.
The collapse occurred near Grandview Beach. It is fairly narrow, with tides high this week. Surfers lay their boards upright against the bluff.
Tourists stand on top of the cliffs for better views.
Long stretches of beach in Encinitas are narrow strips of sand between stiff waves and towering rock walls. People lounging on beach chairs or blankets are sometimes surprised as waves roll past them and within a few feet of the walls.
Some areas are only accessible by steep wooden stairs that descend from neighborhoods atop the cliffs.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Encinitas resident Rebecca Kowalczyk, 30, died near the same area Jan. 16, 2000, when a 110-yard-wide chunk of bluff fell on top of her and buried her.
The newspaper said the last fatal bluff-collapse in San Diego County happened more than a decade ago, when Nevada tourist Robert Mellone, 57, was crushed by a shower of sand and boulders from a section of bluff above Torrey Pines State Beach.