By Devin Fehely

PACIFICA (KPIX 5) – The California Coastal Commission is about to hand down its biggest penalty ever in Northern California.

It’s against the owners of the Oceanaire apartments in Pacifica. The complex sits on a bluff on Esplanade Avenue that is notoriously prone to erosion.

The issue is over rushed repairs to a crumbling coastal cliff.

California Coastal Commission spokesperson Alex Helperin said, “We spent a lot of time trying to get the landowner’s attention, to get them to focus on this.”

They have their attention now.

The California Coastal Commission is on the verge of hitting the owners of the Oceanaire apartment complex with one of the largest fines in the agency’s history, nearly $1.5 million.

The coastal commission says the owners of the apartment first ignored the threat posed by the crumbling cliff their complex sits on and then tried to rush repairs, including dumping boulders on the beach, without getting the necessary approval from the city or the state.

“Eventually, they came around and started to work with us,” Helperin said. “But before that, they ignored us for awhile and also started doing some of their own work without coordinating with us. It’s our job to make sure this is done right and the coastal access remains available to everyone.”

We reached out to the apartment owners Wednesday, but they had no comment.

Even now, a chain-link fence stands between the public and a makeshift path down to the beach. It’s a situation that people living nearby hope will change soon.

“The beaches and the oceans don’t belong to anybody, said Pacifica homeowner Sue Santoro said. “And everybody should have access to them.”

The coastal commission says they hope the hefty fine sends a message.

“When it’s like pulling teeth to get people to engage with us, that it makes it more difficult for us to do our job,” Helperin said. “And there has to be consequences for that, when that people aren’t willing to engage with us. Otherwise, we’re going to have that situation up and down the coast.”

In addition to paying that $1.5 million fine, the coastal commission say the owners of tha apartment complex will either have to undo, or in some cases, redo the repairs they have already made.