Sunday, June 14, 2015

Restore Sloat: Full Status Report

Winter 2015, looking south from the 2nd Parking Lot (photo B. McLaughlin)

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

At a recent chapter meeting, someone unfamiliar with our efforts asked what we have accomplished so far in the campaign.  It was a great question.  The following is part one of a two part detailed report:

Surfrider first got involved in the fight to restore Sloat during the mid-1990's. However, the latest chapter of the campaign began five years ago.

During the 2010 El NiƱo, a piece of the Great Highway fell into the surf.  SFDPW declared an emergency which led to the construction of a massive rock revetment on the beach.  A year later, the same agency applied for a permit to build a seawall and revetment for the entire Sloat shoreline. The project would have covered up what remains of the beach. We stopped this misguided plan at the July 2011 Coastal Commission meeting. Then, through participation in the SPUR led Ocean Beach Master Plan, Surfrider helped forge an alternative vision for Sloat erosion.

Released in 2012, the Ocean Beach Master Plan (OBMP) charts a path to restore the beach at Sloat while adressing the City's need to protect its wastewater infrastructure. The cornerstone of the plan is the use of managed retreat or inland relocation for threatened development.  In the south Sloat area, both the road and the parking lots will be moved away from the water. Rock and rubble can then be cleared off of the beach. The added space will allow for sand dunes to grace the restored shoreline. To protect the remaining wastewater infrastructure (especially the Lake Merced Tunnel), a low profile seawall is proposed.  Because the crown of the wall will sit near sea level, sand and wave run-up should pass over the structure. Only during major erosion events does the seawall emerge from the beach.

The City has been very supportive of the Master Plan vision. SFPUC has funded the low pact seawall study.  SFMTA is busy preparing to pull the road away from the water. The SF Planning Department is working with the Coastal Commission to certify the Sloat work into our local coastal planning document. Public meetings on these issues will be announced by the end of the year.

Estimated Timeline: The project for Sloat is expected to begin the permitting process by the end of 2016 with construction completed sometime near 2021.

Surfrider supports the Master Plan work thus far. We commend the City for working towards a more environmental and sustainable plan for Sloat erosion. However, we are not as enthusiastic about the seawall to protect the Lake Merced Tunnel. We do believe a relocation option for the tunnel should be formally weighed.

In Summary, the City's acceptance of the Master Plan is the chief accomplishment of our campaign. Next month, we will examine some of the near term improvements we have secured, as well as other outstanding issues.

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Setbacks for Sloat and Sharp Park

This is what is left of the beach to the north of Sharp Park golf course.

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

Last month our two beach preservation campaigns suffered setbacks. For Sharp Park, the Coastal Commission unanimously voted to approve the pumphouse renovation project. As we noted in prior posts, renovating the golf course and its infrastructure will eventually lead to an effort to enlarge the seawall.  Given the sorry stat of Pacifica's northern beaches, it is hard to understand the approval of this permit. Check out the photo above to see what is at stake. Suffice to say, we will continue to fight for beach preservation at Sharp Park.

On the Sloat front, we were dealt a loss over the vote on sand mining at the Bay Conservation and Development Commission meeting.  The agency approved the permits that will allow major sand extraction from SF Bay. The good news is that the Commission  is more fully aware of the scientific data showing a strong correlation between sand mining and the loss of sand coming out to our beaches. BCDC acted well in mandating a large pool of money to be used for additional research on this issue.

In summary, while both votes did not go our way, we did force decision-makers to consider the impacts of these projects on our beaches. Both agencies know that enhanced coastal erosion and sea level rise are coming our way; and that proactive steps will be needed to mitigate the damage. Superstorm Sandy has taught all of us that there is a a hefty price to pay for policies of denial, delay and half measures.  Rest assured, we'll keep working for sound decision making that protects our beaches.

Thanks for checking in!

Rodeo Lagoon in Marin: This what a restored Sharp Park wetland could look like.

Friday, April 3, 2015

An Opportunity to Help Us Restore Sharp Park

The beach and surf in front of Sharp Park Golf Course is at risk from coastal armor, natural erosion patterns and sea level rise.

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

This month, the California Coastal Commission will consider a proposal to upgrade the water pumping system at the Sharp Park Golf Course.  As previously posted, Surfrider opposes any move to perpetuate the 18 hole course.  Maintaining the links at Sharp Park will eventually require the reinforcement of the seawall (see photo above).  Most of Pacifica's beaches are already submerged due to fixing the shoreline with boulder like seawalls (also known as revetments).  This practice needs to end.  Due to sea level rise, beaches will require space to migrate inland if they are to survive.

Places like Sharp Park are ideal sites to implement managed retreat. Sand replenishment for Pacifica's beaches is not a sustainable option. Let's close this golf course and return the land to the GGNRA.   Please join Surfrider, Wild Equity, Sierra Club SF, National Parks Conservation Association, and others to speak out against the pumphouse renovation project.

Date: Thursday April 16, 2015
Time: Permit will be heard sometime after 10AM. However, please show up between 8:30AM and 9AM to fill out a speaker card to ensure yourself a chance to speak.
Place: Marin County Board of Supervisors
3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 329
San Rafael, Ca 94903

For more info, see

Saturday, March 14, 2015

BCDC Hearing: Help Preserve Sand Flow to Ocean Beach

Sand is essential to the fine surf we enjoy at Ocean Beach

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

As many of you know, sand coming out of our rivers and estuaries helps maintain our beaches and slows coastal erosion.  Because we have dammed our rivers, built levees and mined gravel over the last 150 plus years, the amount of sand flowing out of SF Bay is significantly less than it used to be. At some level, this effects erosion at Ocean Beach.  

SF Baykeeper has been the lead environmental group fighting to restrict sand mining in SF Bay. Presently, four companies are looking to gain permits that would drastically increase SF Bay sand mining.  If you are available, please attend/speak out against the permits at the BCDC hearing this Thursday March 19 at 1pm.  Email us at to coordinate.

The meeting location is the 2nd Floor of the Ferry Building, downtown San Francisco.

Our message: These permits will lead to a signifiant decrease in sand flow out to our beaches, thus spurring coastal erosion.  The USGS Paper cited in the press release link below backs up this claim:

Here's the meeting notice:

Here's more information from SF Baykeeper:

Thanks for checking in...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Restore Sharp Park Check-In

This protective berm threatens the beach at Sharp Park.

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

While we await new developments at Sloat, we thought this would be a good time to check in on the effort to restore Sharp Park.

To recap, the campaign at Sharp Park involves a seawall like structure located on the beach in Pacifica. See photo above.  The rock and dirt berm protects a golf course from flooding when high surf washes ashore.

Just like at Sloat, the beach at Sharp Park is gradually eroding.  This means either the berm is removed or the beach will eventually become submerged. Much of Pacifica's beaches are already lost due to seawalls and rock revetments.

During February's lone winter storm, the golf course experienced major flooding.  This comes on the heels of zero inches of rainfall in January.  Clearly, the City is fighting an uphill battle in trying to safeguard a golf course on this land. Surfrider continues to support the proposal to abandon golf at Sharp Park and to bring this property into the GGNRA system.  By restoring the wetland system, we can remove the seawall and best preserve the beach.

Wild Equity is running a new letter writing campaign to SF Mayor Ed Lee. Please ask him to remove the berm and to restore the Sharp Park wetland and beach. Here's the link

One last thing...  Over a year ago, golf course management attempted to reinforce the seawall with more rock - all under the banner of "maintenance." As we reported in a prior post, the appropriate authorities were alerted, which stopped the work from completion. To finish the project legally, SF Rec. and Park was supposed to file for a permit/or permit exemption by last July.  The deadline past without a submission. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Sand Access at 2nd Lot

The new sand dune at 2nd parking lot

Greetings Sloat Restorationists,

The sand replenishment work at the south parking lot is complete. According to SFPUC 30,000 cubic yards of sand were used at a cost of $400,000.  Work to stabilize the sand from the wind is slated to occur in the near future.

The Surfrider Foundation would like to emphasize that the current project is not the long term, sustainable solution for Sloat area erosion.  That plan is currently under design by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR)’s Ocean Beach Master Plan.

However, the action will bring important benefits.  Chiefly, the sand will create temporary safe access to the beach for the southern parking lot.  Presently, the only way to get to the beach at the south lot is to scale down an eroding mixture of rock and concrete debris.  Temporary improvements such as this are welcome since it will be several years until a long term sustainable plan can be constructed.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New: Computer Graphic Showing Long Term Plan / Sand Management Details

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

An excellent new video has been released from SPUR illustrating the long term project as outlined in the Ocean Beach Master Plan.  The simple graphic sequence shows the typical or present day condition at Sloat.Then, it follows the different steps of implementation (including the sand management work). Please note the protection device for the Lake Merced Tunnel (LMT).  It is designed to allow natural processes - such as erosion and accretion - to take place. If built, it would function similar to the one at Taraval Street, which remains buried most of the time.

There is no doubt that this plan is more environmentally sound than a conventional seawall and rock revetment. However, Surfrider urges the Master Plan team to consider relocating the LMT altogether. With the threat of sea level rise and climate change driven storms, it may be more cost effective and beneficial to the public to move this piece of infrastructure inland. The option should at least be formally studied.

Finally, if you are curious about the details of the current sand management project, here is the technical data sheet.

Happy Holidays!