North Beach evacuees can’t go home 

The day after a Telegraph Hill cliffside collapsed into neighboring buildings, some of the 120 displaced residents returned to their homes to gather belongings and met with city officials in a makeshift shelter. All had the same question: When can we come home?

At least three weeks and possibly as long as two and a half months, said Amy Lee, acting director of the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection.

"Emergency stabilization might be done in four or five days, weather conditions permitting," department spokesman William Strawn said. Then the debris would have to be removed by crane, and the structures repaired and inspected, before residents could move back in.

City won't pay for repairs

Because the land that slid was private property, shared by the owners of seven buildings, the onus is on those property owners to repair the damage and secure the hillside. The City had no jurisdiction over the land before it moved, Strawn said Wednesday.

Property owners met with city officials on Wednesday, Strawn said. He said a city geotechnical expert identified two weak spots on the hillside, including a "knob" of rock that needs to be removed. A patio and retaining wall associated with 455 Vallejo St., at the top of the hill, will also need to be supported after the rock under part of the patio slid away,Strawn said.

"We certainly want to see the businesses and the residents go back to their homes. We just want to make sure the conditions don’t pose any danger to them," Strawn said.

Residents were evacuated at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday after a 75-foot section of the hillside bordered by Broadway, Vallejo and Montgomery streets collapsed, sending tons of rock and debris careening into buildings at the bottom of the slope. The seven buildings surrounding the property were red-tagged following the slide, but no one was hurt.

Residents may not enter the buildings except briefly to retrieve belongings until the debris is cleared, the hillside secured and the buildings fixed.

Many residents now in shelters

Supervisor Aaron Peskin met with displaced residents in the Chinese Recreation Center, where a temporary shelter has been set up for the roughly 20 residents without private housing arrangements. He fielded questions about the inspection and repair process, and invited shelter residents to a Chinese New Year dinner and celebration.

Franco Reguzzoni, 43, who lives in an apartment at 426 Broadway — the bottom of the slope — said rocks had fallen off the hillside last year and broken a window in the building. "You can argue that as a sign or not," he said.

Reguzzoni said he slept in the shelter on Tuesday night, but that he would be staying with cousins in Oakland on Wednesday. He returned to his apartment Wednesday to collect clothing, a towel and some mozzarella di bufala cheese, which he described as "very good and very perishable."

amartin@examiner.com

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