Saturday, March 15, 2014

Status of The 2012 Sand Berm

Has the 2012 sand drop helped add more beach area to Sloat?

Whatever the reason, there has been a noticeable increase in sandy beach 
at the first parking lot. This is good news. 

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

If you haven't yet signed our online petition, please do so today!

RE: New Erosion Hotspot at the 2nd Parking Lot: We are still awaiting a meeting with the National Park Service to discuss what can be done.  The good news is that it appears that the erosion may have stabilized at the manhole cover.  We have gotten word from SPUR that a plan to re-align the parking is under development.

This month we would like to provide an update on the status of the sand drop that was completed during the summer of 2012.  It looks like most of the sand has already eroded. At the same time, there has been an improvement of the beach width in the immediate area.  Whether that improvement came from the sand berm is uncertain at this point. As we have reported before, the beach can expand and contract at different locations depending on a myriad of factors.  Check out the links to the side of this page for key sand transport studies done by the USGS and others.

Ocean Beach sand transport is a complex system which is still largely unknown. The key facts we do know can be summarized this way.

1. The amount of sand piling up outside the mouth of the Bay has been shrinking ever since we damned the rivers, channeled the delta, filled in and mined sand from the bay.

2. The entire beach  generally erodes under the barrage of winter swells, and accretes (or rebuilds) during calmer spring and summer conditions.

3.  Presently, there is one predominant northbound and one southbound sand transport current at Ocean Beach.  The dividing line is Noriega where northbound currents transport sand where it tends to accrete or build up the shoreline at VFWs and Kellys.  Meanwhile, southbound currents (also from Noriega) generally act to scour sand away from the beach all the way down to Sloat.

SPUR is leading a group of engineers that are studying the effects of the 2012 sand drop. We hope to have an official update on this and other sand management issues sometime this spring or summer.  That would include a plan to keep the sand from blowing into the parking lot.

Thanks for checking in!
North Lot December 2011 - Pre-Sand Drop
North Lot Summer 2012 (sand drop complete)
North Lot March 2014  Much of the sand has eroded. However, safe access remains.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New Online Petition for Sand Access and Rubble Clean-Up

A Surfer avoids the rubble strewn shoreline at 2nd Lot
Photo: B. McLaughlin

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

Please sign our new online petition for near term improvements for Sloat!

While the Master Plan continues to be developed, we are asking that sand access to the beach be maintained at both parking lots. Additionally, it is time for initial rubble clean-up to begin.  The photo above shows the current situation at high tide.  Rubble that does not protect the bluff is now underwater. We hope to see this finally addressed in 2014.  Our new petition is a quick and easy way you can help with this effort!

In other news, we are currently engaged with our public agencies over a new erosion hotspot that has developed in the 2nd (South) parking lot. Apparently, some of the old drainage pipes may be contributing to a pair of notches that have recently formed in the bluff. See photo below. The spread of erosion from these two sites could lead to serious consequences for public access.  The parking lot could become severed into two pieces which would lead to its closure. Since the New Year, we have sent multiple inquiries to public officials from the SPUR team about the hotspot. A final word is still pending.  Let's hope the collaborative spirit fostered by the Ocean Beach Master Plan bears fruit!  One thing is for sure: we cannot afford to lose more parking access at south Sloat.

Thanks for checking in...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2013-2014: A Focus on Near Term Improvements

South Sloat January 2014

Dear Surfriders and Friends, 

In 2013, the Restore Sloat Campaign continued to press its case through public outreach, participation at government meetings, regular correspondence with decision makers, ongoing media outreach and more. This past year, we saw modest near term improvements in the form of additional sand added to the erosion site. As chronicled in our previous posts, there was also recognition from public agencies that the new sand berm at Sloat needs an anchoring system so that sand does not blow drift back into the parking lots. Work is underway on that behalf as well the effort to remove some of the rock debris from the beach. While we look forward to the day when the long term plan is finally built, we will continue to work for a continual improvements.

One last thing!  The California Coastal Commission extended the deadline for public comment on its Sea Level Rise policy guidance to February 14, 2014.  If you would like to help preserve our beaches, click this link to the Commission homepage to download the document.  Surfrider is asking the Commission to strengthen the guidance to promote long term planning based on managed retreat. 

Thanks for checking in!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Chance to Stand Up for Our Beaches

Thanks to this year's sand drop, a family is able to safely exit the beach.

Dear Surfriders and Friends,

There are a pair of opportunities this coming week to help with the efforts to restore the beach at Sloat and to preserve the beach at Sharp Park and other San Mateo County beaches:

A public meeting is being held on Monday 12/9/13 at the College of San Mateo
Meeting the Challenge of Sea Level Rise in San Mateo County
College of San Mateo Theater, Building 3, 
1700 W, Hillsdale Blvd., San Mateo.8:30am-12:30pm  
Here's a link to more info on the meeting - Help us remind policy makers that beach replenishment is not a silver bullet to solve all our erosion conflicts. Sea level rise and climate change driven storms will continue to erode many of our beaches despite attempts to replenish them. San Mateo County has a major case of beach loss in the northern section of Pacifica. The armoring of Sharp Park golf course is particularly troublesome  - and is chronicled in our previous blogposts. Then, there is the case of Half Moon Bay's Surfer's Beach and Martins Beach. If you can, please show up at this conference to lend a voice for long term planning based on managed retreat!

The other opportunity is the Wednesday 12/11/13 and Thursday 12/12/13,  It's a meeting of California Coastal Commission Meeting here in San Francisco - at the Radisson Hotel Fisherman's Wharf
250 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133 8:00am - 9:00am

The Coastal Commission venue on Wednesday is excellent for bringing up the need for commission staff to work with our local officials to bring more near term actions for Sloat. As we have noted, the long term plan being designed through SPUR will take many years to finish. We really need to remove hazardous rubble from Sloat now. Additionally, we need to remind them of the importance of maintaining sand access to the water. 

On Thursday, the Commission will take public comment on a draft report they just released that offers guidelines on responding to sea level rise and the effects of climate change. Managed retreat is mentioned as a tool in the draft. It would be helpful to call for an increased commitment to managed retreat.

Thanks for staying engaged!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Some Modest Progress For Sloat - Update on Regional Armoring Threats

High Tide Access at Sloat 2nd Parking Lot

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

We have been in contact with folks from the SFPUC and the NPS regarding the current situation at Sloat, especially the need to enhance sand access at the south or 2nd parking lot.  The agencies understand our calls for improvements in the area, and some action has been taken.  For example, we confirmed that sand from clearing the lots has indeed been dropped over the side of the bluff to enhance access.  We also pointed out the dire need for trash cans in the area (animal/wind proof style), especially for second lot.  We are awaiting word on this as well as a general status update on the anchoring of the new dune with vegetation, and rubble removal/relocation.  Again, look for a public meeting regarding this near term work sometime this winter. When we get any news on the long term plan, it will be reported right away.

Sharp Park Update: We are still awaiting the Coastal Development Permit hearing for the "maintenance work" on the mud/quarry stone seawall in front of the lagoon.  Side Note: Back in July the Surfrider Foundation, along with Wild Equity and others were awarded attorney fees for the endangered species act lawsuit filed in 2011. We brought the ESA suit originally to force SF Park and Rec. to come up with a feasible management plan for the coastal property. While the case has resulted in a step forward for endangered species, the coastal area still lacks a sustainable management plan that includes preservation of the beach. On Thursday, November 21 (NEW DATE), there is an opportunity to help with the campaign. At 12 noon in City Hall Room 400, the SF Planning Commission will consider allowing an upgrade of the lagoon's pumping system to go forward without an environmental impact report. According to our partners at Wild Equity, the decision may be continued (postponed) until December 5, but public comment can still be registered on 11/21. We firmly believe the project has significant environmental impacts that should be documented and weighed into the decision. 

As many of you know, the pumping of the lagoon depends on the makeshift seawall on the beach. The two work together to create a fixed boundary for the lagoon which protects the golf course from flooding.  This engineered system not only impacts the area's native wildlife (which includes the state threatened Ca. Red Legged Frog and the federally endangered San Francisco Garter Snake); but it also impacts the sand supply to the beach.  In fact, the very existence of the beach in all of Pacifica is threatened by the use of seawalls. Erosion and beach loss is due to accelerate with the effects of sea level rise and climate change driven storms. Beaches need space to migrate inland if they are to survive.

Half Moon Bay Surfer's Beach: News just broke that Surfer's Beach is a long way from receiving sand replenishment from the harbor; yet Highway 1 is under severe threat that could mean additional rock armor at any time. San Mateo Surfriders are encouraged to get involved to protect their beach! See story:

Martins Beach Revetment: We are still awaiting a permit hearing on this from the Ca Coastal Commission. The landowner has until July 2014 to file. The good news is that Commission staff are well aware of the armoring and access issues at Martins. Add your comment in person for the public record at the December meeting of the Coastal Commission.  It will be held in San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf on 12/11-12/12.  Mark your calendars!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

SPUR Updates San Francisco Surfrider on Master Plan Work for Sloat

Beach View at Sloat 2nd Lot:
It looks as though sand was dumped onto the rubble field this summer - probably from clearing the drifts in the parking lot. While modest, this kind of action is most welcome. The fisherman in the photo had a lot easier time reaching the water.

Dear Surfriders and Friends,

As promised, Ben Grant of the SPUR Ocean Beach Master Plan presented at October’s chapter meeting. After providing a comprehensive overview of the OBMP, Mr. Grant filled us in on recent developments for Sloat. These included: efforts to stabilize the new sand bank in front of the north parking lot with a straw bale system; a proposal to relocate some of the rubble away from the Sloat shorebreak, the status of the Army Corps of Engineers’ quest to nourish Ocean Beach with dredged sand from the shipping channel; and a look at the studies being developed to test the Lake Merced Tunnel protection concept (as outlined in the Master Plan).

Perhaps the biggest news is that plans are moving forward to shrink the footprint of the Great Highway from Sloat to Skyline.  An SFMTA traffic study is underway that may result in the consolidation of this portion of the Great Highway into two lanes:  one northbound and one southbound lane. According to SPUR, the goal is to be able to relocate beach parking away from the water’s edge.  New parking would be available in the portions of the old southbound lane.  There will eventually be a public meeting on this and other projects, so stay tuned to provide input.  

In general, we applaud the work of the SPUR team and our City agencies in trying to solve the Sloat challenge.  Moving the road gradually away from the water is definitely a step in the right direction. It is part of the managed retreat solution to erosion that our chapter has been advocating for since the 1990s. For the very near term, we hope to see more sustained action with sand replenishment. Ideally, rubble clean-up and re-alignment would also be included as part of the same project. As we have posted before, the north pacific storm track keeps its own schedule.  That means a major winter storm can strike right at our coast with little notice. It would be a shame to see another emergency quarry stone revetment on our beach before the Master Plan work is finished. Please keep up the pressure with us! It all helps - whether sending letters to officials, attending pubic meetings or just spreading the word throughout the community.

Thanks for staying engaged.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Tale of Two Coastal Lagoons

Laguna Salada: Sharp Park's Coastal Lagoon and Beach: early 20th Century
(photo: PWA-Wild Equity Conceptual Restoration Plan and Feasibility Assessment, Laguna Salada, Pacifica, Ca)

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

Look for a fresh update on the Implementation Phase of the Ocean Beach Master Plan at our next chapter meeting Tuesday October 1st.  7pm at the Tides Center in the Presidio 1014 Torney Ave. In the meantime, here is some more information about our campaign to restore Sharp Park:

The Sharp Park golf course, located in Pacifica, is owned by the city of San Francisco.   It was built in the 1920's on land surrounding a coastal lagoon. Just like Lake Merced, Laguna Salada of Sharp Park is fed by creeks that drain runoff from nearby hills or mountains. During winters with heavy rainfall, these lagoons fill up to the point of spilling their excess water into the ocean. When the dry months of spring and summer set in, the water levels in the lagoon stabilize, the dunes regenerate, and the process begins anew. To learn more about these watersheds and how they work, download this scientific study of Laguna Salada.

At Sloat, we have a zoo, a large sewer tunnel, and a coastal road located right near the shoreline where Lake Merced used to spill into the ocean. Restoring Lake Merced back into a fully functioning lagoon is not on the table at this point in time. However, the restoration of Laguna Salada at Sharp Park is.  A plan has been drafted to close the golf course, give the land to the National Park Service, and incorporate the watershed into the GGNRA.  The Park Service has plans to vigorously restore the native flora, fauna and natural process of the lagoon system.  Surfrider backs this proposal because restoring the watershed means removing the seawall.  This would create long term beach preservation in an area that desperately needs it. We should seize the opportunity to restore Sharp Park.

You can learn more about the issue by visiting our partner's website  You can help today by writing a letter to our public officials (see column on the right).  Also, don't forget to comment on any media story regarding Sharp Park, Sloat, or other issues related to beach erosion and managed retreat.  Thanks for checking in!