Natural erosion causes new West Cliff collapse at Steamer Lane

What's left of the Steamer Lane arch today.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A section of the cliff behind the lighthouse at Steamer Lane collapsed into the ocean late Friday morning. The City of Santa Cruz’s public works department has posted warning signage but has not closed any part of the area yet. West Cliff Drive has seen several significant erosion events over the past few months.

Have something to say? Lookout welcomes letters to the editor, within our policies, from readers. Guidelines here.

A chunk of rock hanging over the iconic Steamer Lane surf spot broke off and fell into the ocean just before 11 a.m. on Friday as the West Cliff Drive area continues to erode. A City of Santa Cruz Public Works team was at the site in the early afternoon assessing damage shortly after the collapse occurred.

City spokesperson Erika Smart said the team was not able to determine a specific reason why the section collapsed, and that it can likely be attributed to natural coastal erosion. The team posted signage warning of the collapse behind the lighthouse where the event happened, and more along the pedestrian path warning surfers of new boulders in the water.

signage map
(Via City of Santa Cruz)

The public works team has not yet determined whether any section of the walkway will need to be closed, or if ocean access will be limited.

West Cliff Drive has seen several significant erosion events over the past few months. In November, a portion of the pedestrian path collapsed between Colombia Street and Woodrow Avenue. The series of atmospheric rivers that battered the county in January caused more than $4 million in damages to the street between Woodrow Avenue and Almar Avenue, which remains closed to motor vehicles.

Latest Stories


Be the first to know all the big, breaking news in Santa Cruz. Sign up to get Lookout alerts sent straight to your phone here or below.