|Surfrider continues to work to restore the shoreline at south Ocean Beach.|
It has now been 20 years since the 1996-1997 El Niño winter, an event which brought the first rock revetment onto the beach at Sloat. Ever since that event, the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter has been working to remove the rocks and to restore the beach.
We have participated in two government/public planning processes specially formed to solve the erosion problem: the Ocean Beach Task Force (1999-2005), and the Ocean Beach Master Plan (2011-2012). We have attended countless meetings, submitted numerous official written comment letters, ran multiple petition campaigns, reached out to the media and the local community, and more. At all times, we have brought not just our complaints, but also a viable solution to our public officials. Our plan calls for the protection of infrastructure through relocation (known as managed retreat). We seek to restore the back beach area to allow sand dunes - not rock and debris - to serve as the primary tool to check erosion.
Today, we can finally say a solution is in sight. Since the release of the 2012 Ocean Beach Master Plan, the city of San Francisco has officially begun to embrace a long term plan that may restore Sloat. The project is now being prepared for permitting, with a 2017 year end deadline for submission. To ensure the work is ultimately approved with a strong restoration component, we continue our advocacy campaign. Currently, we are helping shape new zoning laws to allow a managed retreat based solution for the infrastructure at risk.
One word about the Ocean Beach Master Plan: Although we may differ over the fate of the Lake Merced Tunnel (see especially the prior 3 posts), the vast majority of the SPUR plan is excellent. The road and the two parking lots are to to be realigned from the erosion hazard area. A new biking and hiking trail connecting to Fort Funston is scheduled to be installed. Rock and rubble is to be eventually be removed from the shoreline, with sand dunes taking its place. According to Ben Grant at San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR), some of these improvements could be implemented as soon as this year.
Please stay tuned and continue to spread the word! Yes, Sloat is still a mess. However, after 20 years of decay, real plans to fix the area are on the table and moving through the bureaucracy. Enjoy the fall surf season! Please continue to be cautious when accessing the area. As always, we will inform the community as soon as we get official word of any new developments.