Sloat Restoration through Managed Retreat

Sloat Restoration through Managed Retreat
This is our original vision for Sloat Restoration - graphic courtesy of PSA and Associates and the Ocean Beach Task Force

Our Vision of Beach Restoration and Preservation

The shorelines of Ocean Beach south of Sloat Blvd and Sharp Park in Pacifica are threatened by rip-rap seawallls and long-term erosion. This blog chronicles our campaign efforts to restore these beaches. Check out the web view of this site to see our proposed solutions and how to help- in the right hand column below. For all the latest about our efforts, see our monthly posts.

We advocate a managed retreat strategy to restore both Ocean Beach south of Sloat and Sharp Park.

At Sloat, our vision involves:

A long-term plan to relocate threatened infrastructure
(including the south of Sloat Great Highway, the two oceanside parking lots and the sewer lines underneath them).

The cleanup of all the rock and rubble littering the beach.

The use of sand dunes as the primary tool to slow erosion.

For Sharp Park, we advocate the decommissioning of the golf course, the removal of the rip-rap berm, and a full restoration of the wetland.

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!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sand Project Has Begun for South Parking Lot

The sand management project has begun. Photo: B. McLaughlin 12/1/14


The San Francisco Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is pleased to announce that the long awaited project to bring sand to Sloat’s southern parking lot has begun.

The National Park Service (NPS), in cooperation with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), is presently conducting a sand management project at Ocean Beach. Like the 2012 effort, excess sand in front of the O'Shaughnessy Seawall at North Ocean Beach is being excavated and then transported to the beach at the erosion hotspot south of Sloat Boulevard.  In contrast to 2012, the sand this time will be brought to the southern parking lot. 

The Surfrider Foundation would like to emphasize that the current project is not the long term, sustainable fix 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 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.

In 2012, according to the National Park Service website, approximately 73 thousand cubic yards of sand was relocated. The current project is slated to transfer approximately 30 thousand cubic yards of sand. The south bound lanes are to be closed Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The project is scheduled to be completed within five weeks. The cost of the project is $500,000 according to SFPUC.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ca Coastal Commission and San Francisco's Local Coastal Program

A smooth gray line peels off at Sloat's south lot. (photo B. McLaughlin)

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

Unfortunately, the new sand back-passing project for Sloat continues to be delayed. Over the last month, we have made phone calls to our contact at the PUC. Apparently there was a permit issue that is responsible. The good news is that the equipment is in place at Sloat south lot and ready to go. We will update with photos when the project is complete.

In other news, the chapter attended the California Coastal Commission meeting in Half Moon Bay on Wednesday November 12. At the hearing, Surfrider registered support for San Francisco's grant application to update their coastal planning document (also known as the Local Coastal Program or LCP). With an updated LCP, the restoration work for Sloat can move forward in a more efficient manner. Without a current LCP, individual permits for each piece of the restoration might have been needed from the commission.  Securing just one permit can be very time consuming. A revised LCP will help expedite the restoration process as well as ensure the final Sloat design is compliant with the threat of sea level rise and climate change driven storms. We believe these latter two elements will help promote the managed retreat strategy we have long been seeking. Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October offshores grace the 2nd parking lot. (photo: B. McLaughlin)

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

By all accounts, the two public meetings went well, though attendance was light.

The good news on the sand project is that the second parking lot will indeed be the focus of the new replenishment work.  Also, because of our advocacy efforts, general improvements for the parking lots are now high up on the list of near term priorities.

If you would like to submit your own comments on these and other issues, please do! The deadlne is October 15.  Below is a pasted email from SPUR with all the information.  Thanks!


Thanks to all of you who stopped by our open space design workshop at the United Irish Cultural Center this week (9/24)! For those who didn’t make it or who want to refresh your memory, you can view the presentation boards via the link to the blog post below. These boards present information on proposed open space designs at both the North Reach, across from Golden Gate Park between Lincoln Way and Balboa Street, and the South Reach, along the Great Highway from Sloat to Skyline Blvd. Please take a look at the boards and download the attached feedback form to submit your comments to us by October 15, 2014:
via email at, or
via mail: Ben Grant, SPUR, 654 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105.

​​Your feedback will be incorporated and presented an evening forum at SPUR (654 Mission) on October 27. Once again thank you all for your interest and participation!

Best regards,

Ben Grant and Shannon Fiala

Give Us Feedback on Open Space Design for Ocean Beach!

Thanks to all of you who stopped by our open space design workshop at the United Irish Cultural Center last night (9/24)! Please take a look at the boards posted (and attached) below and submit your feedback to us by October 15, 2014.


Open Space Design at Ocean Beach

San Francisco

6:00 p.m. | Monday, October 27, 2014

Read full event details >>

Submit Comment on the Ocean Beach Sand Management Project

The Ocean Beach Sand Management Project will gather excess sand built up along the O’Shaughnessy Seawall and place this sand in the erosion hotspot south of Sloat Boulevard. To address the issues of excess sand and sand deficit at opposite ends of Ocean Beach, the National Park Service (NPS) in cooperation with the City’s two departments, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and Department of Public Works (DPW) propose to transport approximately 30,000 cubic yards (cy) of sand from the overwidened backbeach area in front of the O’Shaughnessy Seawall to the erosion hot spot south of Sloat Boulevard to provide temporary shoreline stabilization and protection for the Lake Merced Transport Tunnel, which connects to a large wastewater treatment facility, as well as the Great Highway. Submit comment here by September 26, 2014.


Ideas and action for a better city

654 Mission St.

San Francisco, CA 94105


76 South First Street

San Jose, CA 95113


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Sunday, September 14, 2014

More Sand For Sloat... 2 Public Meetings This Month!

North lot area 2013. Let's bring sand access to the southern parking lot.  

Dear Surfriders and Friends,

We have some new developments to report this month.  First, there is another round of sand replenishment for Sloat coming in October. Sand will be excavated from the area in front of the seawall at north Ocean Beach. Then, it will be trucked down to the Sloat erosion hotspot. This will involve the same process that we saw in the summer of 2012.  Once again, Surfrider would like to emphasize that this is not to be confused with the long term solution for Sloat being developed thru the SPUR Ocean Beach Master Plan.  However, since the Master Plan fix for Sloat will take years to implement; this project is welcome.  If placed in the right location - such as the southern parking lot area -  the sand can restore safe access to the water where we desperately need one.

Therefore, we are urging public support for the National Park Service and the City on this project. Please join us in requesting that the sand be used to create safe access at the southern parking lot.

For more information about the project, please visit the NPS website:  

Please note: Comments are due by Sept. 26!

Also: Two public forums are scheduled for the second half of this month:

First up is the Ocean Beach Town Hall meeting. This will cover a general update on several Ocean Beach related efforts (not just SPUR's Master Plan work).

Inline image 1

September 17 | Wednesday | 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Ocean Beach: Updates on Ocean Beach Master Plan, Sand Management and Seawall Repairs
Join Supervisors Katy Tang and Eric Mar (District 1) to discuss updates about the Ocean Beach Master Plan, hear from representatives of  SF Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) on sand management plans for this upcoming winter, SPUR about Ocean Beach planning, and the National Park Service (NPS) staff discuss repairs to the O’Shaughnessy Seawall and other issues.
Park Chalet Restaurant | 1000 Great Highway and John F. Kennedy Drive
For more information, contact

Coming soon: Ocean Beach Open Space Design Workshop 9/24. more at

Thanks always for checking in!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Great Highway Parking Lot Shelved

Fishing for Bass at South Sloat, Summer 2014

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

Since our last post, it appears that the SPUR team has decided to shelve the idea of putting the north parking access on the Great Highway near Vicente.  This is great news.  Hopefully, the idea of narrowing the Great Highway between Lincoln and Sloat will also be removed from the current list of proposals. Surfrider has always maintained that - in this initial Master Plan - only the south of Sloat portion of the Great Highway should be narrowed down into two lanes and realigned eastward.

The Master Plan contains numerous proposals for change at Ocean Beach.  Many of them are great such as: a new restroom/shower for the Kelly's Cove area, a coastal trail connecting to Ft. Funston, and native plant restoration in the dunes. That being said, Surfrider does urge SPUR to keep the bulk of its focus on solving the erosion challenge south of Sloat. This important stretch of Ocean Beach has been severely neglected over the last 20 years. It will take significant time and resources to reverse all the damage. The OBMP provides us with a vehicle to accomplish the task. Thanks for checking in.

Stay tuned for more news in the coming months!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ocean Beach Master Plan Workshop 5-10-14

Greetings Surfriders,

First off, we want to thank everyone that signed our petition in recent months and/or attended meetings on this issue. Your engagement is extremely important. Mahalo!

Last month's Ocean Beach Master Plan Workshop included new information related to studies on coastal management, transportation and open space. There was a lot to absorb, and potentially a ton of new items to comment on. Since our campaign is focused on the restoration efforts at Sloat, we will restrict comments to that topic.

Re: Sand Replenishment

We applaud the commitment to use of sand and/or sand bags as the primary erosion tools until the long term plan is built. This is particularly important since it appears that another El Niño event is developing. Surfrider would like to emphasize that an official sand access trail should be maintained for the southern parking lot. Additionally, we still need a method to keep sand from blowing into the north lot; which is still getting clogged up after stretches of northwest wind events.

Rubble Reconfiguration:

We fully support the effort to clear any of the rubble from the shoreline. Surfrider urges this project to also proceed as soon as possible.  The rock littering the beach is a safety hazard. That being said, disposal of the material should be prioritized over replacing it back on to the bluff.

Lake Merced Tunnel Modeling:

It is great news that the Master Plan's concept to protect the Lake Merced Tunnel looks to be viable. Even better is the news that the tunnel appears to be more sturdy than previously thought. This may allow for more immediate bluff restoration.  However, Surfrider would like to emphasize that the cost and benefits of armoring this structure should be weighed against a plan for its relocation.

When the Master Plan for Sloat is complete, a lot of time and money will have been spent trying to bring safety to the Lake Merced Tunnel - as well as the restoration of the beach. Sea level rise is coming. It only makes sense to build a project that maximizes the longevity of both management goals. Relocating the tunnel away from the water could be the best option.  At a minimum, the LMT relocation alternative should be formally studied.

Open Space and Transportation Studies:

The open house revealed more details on plans for dune restoration with native plants, amenities for bikes, walking and jogging paths, etc. These are all great measures we fully support. There is one serious item, though, on which we need to register dissent: a proposal for new coastal access parking on the southbound Great Highway near Wawona. This proposed location would have parking at Sloat moved north of its current location, landing on the westernmost lanes of the road.  Such a move conflicts with the goals of managed retreat. Instead, Surfrider urges SPUR to consider a plan for the gradual realignment of the north parking lot inland, directly to the east.  The long term result could have it eventually occupy the area in front of the Westside Pump Station.

Overall, on balance, SPUR and the Master Plan team of public agencies are doing great work towards solving the erosion mess at Sloat. We urge the community and the SPUR team to remain engaged through ongoing communication efforts.  There are a lot of big moves with critical details in this plan. With informed, open minded thinking, we are confident that the Master Plan project for Sloat will eventually be a great one.

Thanks for checking in. Stay tuned for more opportunities to participate in the planning process!

Bill McLaughlin

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Update on New Erosion/Construction Activity at the South Parking Lot

Thanks to our public agencies, sand cleared from the Great Highway has 
created safe access at 2nd Parking Lot.
Before we issue a reaction to the recent SPUR OB Master Plan workshop, we wanted to update the community on the status of a pair of erosion hotspots at the the south parking lot. Apparently, SFPUC and SFDPW are working with the National Park Service to fill in the hotspots with sand collected from the Great Highway. The Park Service has taken the additional step of removing concrete edging along the bluff before it falls to the beach.  We applaud our public agencies for taking such action. Removing asphalt before it litters the beach is proactive. Repairing the eroded holes in the bluff with sand is smart and sensitive to the public. A by product of all this work is the creation of a sand access trail to the beach where one of the hotspots was filled in. We just need more sand to be added to this site from time to time to reinforce this access point. Thanks for checking in...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

SPUR Ocean Beach Master Plan Meeting May 10th

Easter Sunday at Sloat
Throngs pack what is left of the north lot, and enjoy the new sand replenishment work.
Let's extend this scene along the rest of the Sloat area shoreline!

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

SPUR has just announced a public meeting on the status of the Ocean Beach Master Plan.  Mark your calendars for Saturday May 10th 9am-12pm at the SF County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park (9th and Lincoln Way).  The meeting will feature an update on the "implementation phase" of the OBMP. Among many issues, we expect to hear about progress on short term improvements for Sloat such as sand replenishment, parking, road, and rubble re-configuration.  Please spread the word heavily. We need a strong community voice to weigh in on the details of the plan as things move forward.

If you cannot make the meeting, but would like to help with the campaign, please sign our latest petition.

 If you would like to join our special email alert list and/or join our erosion committee, please contact us at

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!