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Oceanfront bluff collapses in Isla Vista, damaging deck and displacing residents

As many as 20 people were displaced from a bluff-top apartment on Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista on Sunday after part of a deck collapsed along with a section of the cliff below.
As many as 20 people were displaced from a bluff-top apartment on Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista on Sunday after part of a deck collapsed along with a section of the cliff below. Noozhawk photo

As many as 20 people were displaced from their bluff-top Isla Vista apartments Sunday after a section of the cliff gave way, taking part of an overhanging deck with it.

The incident happened about 5 p.m. on the 6600 block of Del Playa Drive, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

No one was on the cantilevered patio at the time of the collapse, and no injuries were reported, fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

He said the section of bluffs gave way after being pummeled by heavy surf and high tides and being saturated by runoff from Sunday’s storm.

“I was just in my apartment with my roommates, and we heard a loud noise that sounded like a big wave that shook the entire building,” said Kim Huber, 21, one of the building’s tenants.

“We went outside to look and thought we would just see some big waves, and then we saw that half the yard had fallen into the ocean.”

Huber, a third-year psychology major from Tampa, Florida, said two of her roommates had been on the deck just minutes before it collapsed.

“If it hadn’t been raining, people would have been out there,” she said, adding that she and her roommates recently had noticed a crack in the patio but assumed it was superficial.

“But that’s right where it broke off,” she said.

Huber said she and some of the other tenants were told they could stay, but she and her roommates were planning to spend the night elsewhere.

“It just kind of shook us up a lot,” she said.

Representatives of the American Red Cross of Central California were assisting with lodging for the complex’s residents until officials can determine if the structure if safe.

A county building inspector also was sent out to evaluate the damage, Zaniboni said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at tbolton@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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