SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) — State officials are losing patience over erosion on a stretch of Santa Cruz coastline.

That’s where the California Coastal Commission says the city must come up with a long-term plan, and fast, for West Cliff Drive.

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The City of Santa Cruz got in trouble because it tried to protect its coast.

Now the state has issued an ultimatum.

The city of Santa Cruz admits that much of the repair work on West Cliff Drive was done without the proper permits and may potentially be in violation of the California Coastal Act.

Santa Cruz Deputy City Manager Scott Collins said when there’s an emergency, we have to deal with it. And that’s by and large how all cities in California deal with coastal erosion.”

Santa Cruz used giant boulders to form a protective barrier along West Cliff Drive.

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The work was done on an emergency basis, but the city was supposed to apply for a permit and submit a coastal development plan. But never did.

Last month, the California Coastal Commission sent Santa Cruz a warning letter setting up a potential legal showdown.

In the letter, the commission says the absence of a master plan for the area has left the city mired in an “unending cycle of emergency responses.”

Collins said, “The city is committed to getting the permits in order for the emergency work that was done a couple of years ago when we literally had a hole in West Cliff.”

The city says hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals visit West Cliff Drive every year and they want to preserve it for the future.

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The two sides say they’re committed to working together toward a solution. But if that fails the city could face stiff fines.