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