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O.B.'s best rent deal slated for demo

Cave at end of Orchard Avenue at risk of collapse

Police spraypainted “Danger Keep Out” above this cave carved into the bluffs at the foot of Orchard Avenue.
Police spraypainted “Danger Keep Out” above this cave carved into the bluffs at the foot of Orchard Avenue.

The days are numbered for a cave used as an illegal shelter that the city says in danger of collapse at the foot of Orchard Avenue in Ocean Beach.

By next week, police will dislodge any inhabitants of the cave and remove all belongings. A contractor will then demolish a 250-square-foot portion of concrete shell surrounding the cave, allowing the pieces to fall inward and and render it uninhabitable. The work is scheduled to begin October 19, said Conrad Wear, aide to District 2 San Diego city councilmember Lorie Zapf.

“[The inhabitants] will have time to gather their things — the law requires it,” Wear said. “Police will ensure a safe departure.”

The cave sits high on a bluff beneath the Sunset Towers condos at 4909 Orchard Ave. The bluff is reinforced with a five-inch shell of concrete, a rarity on the bluffs and a type of reinforcement no longer permitted. It’s believed the concrete was poured in the early 1980s — probably by the adjacent condo association — but there are no records to verify it, said Mike Fakhoury of the city’s Public Works Department.

Apparently, a chunk of the shell, also called shotcrete, collapsed, which allowed inhabitants to enter and excavate a larger shelter in the bluff, Fakhoury said.

Orchard Avenue residents have been increasingly vocal at recent meetings of the Ocean Beach Town Council, alleging the cave has been a staging area for drug activity, laundry theft, aggressive panhandling, and weapons possession.

A recent look inside the cave revealed ordinary items: mattresses, bedding, a hammock, a stuffed animal, clothing, cigarette butts, votive candles, and two empty mini-bottles, one containing olive oil extract, the other coffee liqueur.

Crews with safety harnesses and hand-held air tools will break up the concrete. Erosion controls will be installed to prevent sediment from falling into the sea. The work will be complete in a few days and cost an estimated $35,000 to the city, Fakhoury said.

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Police spraypainted “Danger Keep Out” above this cave carved into the bluffs at the foot of Orchard Avenue.
Police spraypainted “Danger Keep Out” above this cave carved into the bluffs at the foot of Orchard Avenue.

The days are numbered for a cave used as an illegal shelter that the city says in danger of collapse at the foot of Orchard Avenue in Ocean Beach.

By next week, police will dislodge any inhabitants of the cave and remove all belongings. A contractor will then demolish a 250-square-foot portion of concrete shell surrounding the cave, allowing the pieces to fall inward and and render it uninhabitable. The work is scheduled to begin October 19, said Conrad Wear, aide to District 2 San Diego city councilmember Lorie Zapf.

“[The inhabitants] will have time to gather their things — the law requires it,” Wear said. “Police will ensure a safe departure.”

The cave sits high on a bluff beneath the Sunset Towers condos at 4909 Orchard Ave. The bluff is reinforced with a five-inch shell of concrete, a rarity on the bluffs and a type of reinforcement no longer permitted. It’s believed the concrete was poured in the early 1980s — probably by the adjacent condo association — but there are no records to verify it, said Mike Fakhoury of the city’s Public Works Department.

Apparently, a chunk of the shell, also called shotcrete, collapsed, which allowed inhabitants to enter and excavate a larger shelter in the bluff, Fakhoury said.

Orchard Avenue residents have been increasingly vocal at recent meetings of the Ocean Beach Town Council, alleging the cave has been a staging area for drug activity, laundry theft, aggressive panhandling, and weapons possession.

A recent look inside the cave revealed ordinary items: mattresses, bedding, a hammock, a stuffed animal, clothing, cigarette butts, votive candles, and two empty mini-bottles, one containing olive oil extract, the other coffee liqueur.

Crews with safety harnesses and hand-held air tools will break up the concrete. Erosion controls will be installed to prevent sediment from falling into the sea. The work will be complete in a few days and cost an estimated $35,000 to the city, Fakhoury said.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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