Friday, July 24, 2015

Restore Sloat: Full Status Report Part II

Early morning low tide south of Sloat (Photo: B. McLaughlin)

Dear Surfriders and Friends,

Last month we examined the progress made towards implementing a long term solution for Sloat erosion.  Now we will examine the near term improvements as well as outstanding issues.


Near Term/Interim Improvements


  • Commitment by the City to avoid placing rocks on the beach in case of erosion emergencies. 
Perhaps this is the most important thing we have achieved for the immediate and interim term.  From now on, the use of sand or sandbags will be the primary strategy to prevent or respond to erosion emergencies. This is critical, since it will take several years before the long term erosion project is built. Also, el Niño storm energy is forecast to return this winter.
  • Two new sand dunes for each Sloat parking lot.
Since the Ocean Beach Master Plan's release in 2012, SFPUC and GGNRA have cooperated in a joint project to build two sand dunes for each Sloat parking lot. The north dune has rebuilt a beach, which now is heavily used on nice weather days.  The south lot dune restores safe access to the water, a critical necessity that has been absent for many years. Although the dunes will eventually erode, they show commitment by our public agencies to address the erosion mess at Sloat.
  • SFMTA is moving ahead with plans to relocate the road and parking lots away from the water.
According to SFDPW's Oscar Gee, there will be a public workshop before the end of the year regarding the South of Sloat portion of the Great Highway.  The first phase is to consolidate the four lane road into one single northbound and southbound lane. The road would then be re-aligned along the eastern side of the bluff. Such a change will help alleviate the erosion threat to the road, while setting up the long term beach restoration / infrastructure protection plan. More details to come. We continue to advocate for new temporary parking for the southern parking lot. This project could allow that to happen. Stay tuned! 


Outstanding Issues: 


  • Rock and rubble cleared off of the beach.
Quarry stone and rubble still litter the beach south of Sloat.  Some of the material is submerged during most of the tidal cycle.  The debris is a hazard for surfers who enter and exit the ocean as well as to fishermen who wade in the surf zone. We have been advocating for immediate clean-up for many years.  The City has been reluctant to remove any of the debris since they consider it necessary protection for the wastewater infrastructure, namely the Lake Merced Tunnel.  The Coastal Commission wants any rubble removal to be part of a more comprehensive long term plan, filed within a coastal development permit.  Such a permit would is least a year or two away - at best - from being submitted and accepted. We will continue to press for more immediate action. In the meantime, please be careful of the submerged rock!
  • An environmentally safe solution to keep sand from blowing off the new temporary access dunes  
During springtime and early summer northwest wind conditions, sand from the newly constructed dunes has been blowing right back up onto the road and/or filling up the parking lots. This hampers vehicular access.  A low impact, temporary solution should be installed. It would be helpful to see this occur before next spring.
  • A commitment to replace the north parking lot with new parking near Sloat Boulevard and the Great Highway.  
Since it is clear that the north parking lot is in an unsustainable location, we need the SPUR team to ensure quality parking is built near the Sloat / Great Highway intersection, inland, and away from the water.  A plan that clearly outlines this solution should come forth.  Again, any proposal to expand interim/temporary parking for either lot would be helpful.
  • The retrofitting of the Army Corps of Engineers dredge ship Essayons
The Army Corps ship Essayons dredges the shipping channel yearly.  Retrofitting the vessel with a pump/pipe system would allow for sand to be placed directly onto the beach south of Sloat. This move is preferable to sand back passing since a large volume is dredged by the ship on a continual basis.  Having access to the dredge spoils would help ensure that a robust network of sand dunes is built, and then can serve as the main protective device for the wastewater plant and it supporting infrastructure. 

Finally, Surfrider would like to remind everyone that the most important piece of restoring Sloat involves a long term plan to relocate infrastructure. The beach at Sloat is locked into a long term pattern of erosion and needs more area to survive. Be relocating infrastructure, we reduce the erosion conflict, and provide a chance for the beach and its sand dunes to thrive.      

Thanks for checking in!

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