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This Town Lost To The Ocean Could Open To The Public Again

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Sunken City, the site of a small community lost to the ocean, may be open to the public again after being off-limits for decades.

Sunken City is in San Pedro near Point Fermin. Back in the 1920s, there was a small, six-acre neighborhood of bungalows as part of a housing tract owned by developer George Peck, the Daily News reports. Unfortunately, the bungalows began to slide slowly into the ocean in 1929. The slide occurred so slowly—about a foot each day—that all but two of the bungalows were able to moved. Then, a water main break in 1941 sped up the process, and the City fenced off the area.

Today, the ruins of sidewalks, streets and Red Car tracks remain—much of it covered in graffiti. The site also boasts a gorgeous view, and is a popular destination for tourists, urban explorers and photographers. However, anyone who goes to check it out is technically trespassing.

In 1987, the City decided to built a $140,000 wrought-iron fence around Sunken City. There had been too many late-night partiers, plus a few tragedies—people had fallen off the edge of Sunken City's cliff and died, and a few people had committed suicide by jumping off.

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Now, some residents say that the area is stable, though a chunk of the cliff did collapse in 2009, and they'd like to see the City begin to use the land in a positive way. Plus, the fence isn't really stopping curious sight-seers. People have slipped around the fence and dug holes in order to shimmy underneath, and Yelp has plenty of reviews from people who have recently visited. The fence didn't stop the tragedies either: two teenage girls jumped from the cliff in 1996.

One neighbor told the Daily Breeze that "instead of spending money to try to keep people out, it might be better to spend that money to make it safe."

Councilman Joe Buscaino has asked parks officials to consider opening the area to the public during the day. While Buscaino's proposal would not remove the fence that protects the area, it does call for the installation of a gate that would automatically lock at sunset.

Attorneys for the city will have to explore issues with liability, though law firm Chatten-Brown & Carstens LLP said last year that they believe the liability will be low, "while potential for beneficial public access and increased recreational use of the area is very high." The firm also said that the City is protected from liability for any "accidents or injuries that might occur at Sunken City," and compared this site to places like the L.A. River where allowing the public to access a site that is potentially dangerous has been a success.

YouTuber Tom Explores Los Angeles gave a short video tour of Sunken City in 2013.

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