Sunday, June 14, 2015

Restore Sloat: Full Status Report

Winter 2015, looking north 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:

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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, the very southern portion of the Great Highway was so badly undermined by erosion that a piece of the road 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 remained of the sandy beach. We stopped this misguided plan at the July 2011 Coastal Commission meeting. Then, through participation in the SPUR led Ocean Beach Master Plan, we worked to 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 of 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 newly cleared space will allow for sand dune restoration. To protect the remaining wastewater infrastructure (ie: the Lake Merced Tunnel, a threatened wastewater pipe under the road), a low impact seawall is proposed.  Because the top of the wall will sit near sea level, it should remain buried under the sand.  This will allow wave run up to pass over the structure. Only during major erosion events does the seawall emerge from the beach to block the surf from damaging the Lake Merced Tunnel.

The City has been very supportive of the Master Plan vision. For example, SFPUC has funded the low pact seawall study; and is showing other positive signs to address the issue.  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 long term 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!