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.

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018 Year End Wrap Up

Season's Greetings Surfriders,

Thanks to all who have helped in the effort to restore and preserve Ocean Beach this year. Here's a short highlight list of the 2018 campaign:

1. Secured the passage of the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) amendment.

The amendment we helped shape is a zoning regulation which now allows for beach restoration at Sloat through managed retreat. We submitted written and oral comments every step of the way on the LCP.  

2. Mounted a principled opposition to the Westside Pumpstation Upgrade.

The Pumpstation upgrade will improve our water quality, but will probably need to be protected by armoring at some future point.  We opposed the permit on this ground and the fact that the permit did not include an alternatives analysis containing a landward configuration option for the project.  Although we lost this fight, Surfrider needed to make a point that all new development along Ocean Beach should be planned in such a way as to avoid exposure to erosion.

3. Launched a campaign to include new parking in the upcoming road project.

Over the years, the beach community has lost most of our coastal access parking south of Sloat. A road relocation/consolidation project is coming up soon, and Surfrider is mounting a campaign to ensure parking is included in the plans. It's not too late to help.  Just write a letter - instruction are on the December 5th post below.

Thanks again to all.  Enjoy the holiday surf!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Beach Access Parking Comments Still Needed!

This graphic (posted on the restrooms at Sloat) shows what we were expecting from the Phase 1 project.
Greetings Surfriders,

The fight to ensure parking improvements for south Ocean Beach is on.  At last month's Coastal Commission hearing at Fisherman's Wharf, we testified for the need for parking improvements at Sloat and the need for their inclusion in the upcoming road re-alignment project.

Surfrider contends that our request for parking improvements is only fair as we have been told for several years now that new parking for beach access was to be included in this project.  The Phase One plan was to accomplish this by repurposing the abandoned southbound lanes.  A graphic of this proposal can be found posted on the walls of the Sloat restroom. See text in picture - "parking in abandoned lanes".

To help us in this effort, please send a letter to the SF Department of Public Works, the agency in charge of executing the road project.  However, definitely CC (carbon copy) to the North Central District office of the Coastal Commission, Supervisor Katy Tang, Supervisor Peskin, SF Rec. and Park Director Phillip Ginsburg, Benjamin Grant at SPUR and Brian Aviles at the National Parks Service. These are key entities that will be deciding the fate of beach access parking for the Sloat area.

Here is a sample text.  Feel free to copy and paste:


Dear Decision-makers of the Sloat erosion site,

My name is _______________ and I __________ (surf, hike, fish, enjoy, etc) Ocean Beach.  While I support the restoration plan for the erosion site south of Sloat, the upcoming road realignment work should include additional beach access parking using the abandoned lanes until a new long-term parking lot can be built.

Parking access south of Sloat is critical for beach access. Originally, our two parking lots provided 200 spaces.  Currently, the south parking access has been completely lost to erosion while the north lot has only 29 parking spaces left. This is inadequate. We need immediate parking relief in the upcoming road realignment project. 

Thank you.  _____________
(your name, address)


Thanks again for your help!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Beach Parking Needed ASAP! Coastal Commission Hearing Coming to SF

With the installment of concrete barriers, we need beach access parking asap for South of Sloat. 

Greetings Surfriders,

Surfrider is asking for our activists to help advocate for immediate beach access parking for the erosion site.  The City has put up new concrete guard rails to prevent people from parking along the bluff without building an additional alternative parking arrangement. This is unacceptable.

Fortunately, there is a great opportunity to weigh in on this. The California Coastal Commission is holding their November 2018 hearing in San Francisco.  Come join us in advocating for immediate parking relief for Sloat.

Here's the details:
November 7-9 Aquarium of the Bay San Francisco - Farallon Room
Pier 39 Embarcadero and Beach Street 

Our region is the North Central Coast District. The Commission agenda for our region will be heard on Thursday November 8th.  The agenda item is #19 the Deputy Director's Report.

Please show up at around 8am to fill out a comment card if you would like to speak.  Not able to make it?

Send an email to: 
Subject Line: Agenda#19 Deputy Director's Report

Below is a sample letter.  Feel free to cut and paste and/or add your own take on the matter.


My name is.. _______________ and I __________ (surf, hike, fish, enjoy, etc) Ocean Beach.  While I support the restoration plan for the erosion site south of Sloat, the initial phase of road realignment should be accompanied by parking upgrades. 

Parking access south of Sloat is critical for beach access. Originally, our two parking lots provided 200 spaces.  Currently, the south parking access has been completely lost to erosion while the north lot has only 29 parking spaces left. This is inadequate. We need immediate parking relief in the upcoming road realignment project as well as a quality long-term replacement for the main parking lot.

Thank you.  _____________
(your name, address)


Thanks for your help!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sea Level Rise Set to Impact the Wildlife of California's Beaches

Without room for beaches to migrate landward, shorebirds will lose habitat.

Greetings Surfriders,

This year, a joint study was released by the Nature Conservancy and the Ca Coastal Conservancy concerning the impacts of sea level rise to the California coast.  The news is not good for our beach ecosystems.

The report Conserving California's Coastal Habitats: A Legacy and a Future with Sea Level Rise predicts that even five feet of sea level rise will threaten 60% of the state's upper beach habitats. (The report defines the upper beach area as the portion of sand from the average high tide line to the dunes, bluffs and other habitats).

For us locally, this spells a major threat to our seabirds. From sand pipers to snowy plovers, sea level rise and enhanced erosion could lead to a submerged shoreline. Without managed retreat, much of San Francisco and Pacifica's shoreline could be permanently submerged. Many seabirds need sandy beaches to feed, rest or breed.

The Nature Conservancy assessment does have a positive message. The report states that if we act now, we can avoid and/or mitigate much of the damage. Managed retreat and shoreline restoration projects are singled out in the report as having a critical role.

Surfrider urges you to get involved to ensure we meet this challenge.  Stay tuned for the next public hearing for Sloat which should happen later this fall. Shoot us an email at or follow this blog if you want to be directly notified of such events.

If you are a resident of Pacifica, please comment on the draft LCP sea level rise adaptation plan.  Send comments to or to Bonny O'Connor, Planning Department, 170 Santa Maria Avenue, Pacifica, CA 94044 by 5pm Monday October 8th.  We need folks to continue to stand up for beach restoration and managed retreat of development.

Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

California's 2018 Sea Level Rise Update

Change is coming, indeed. Posted on the wall of the Sloat restrooms.

Greetings Surfriders,

A few months ago, while we were in the midst of demanding fair treatment of a landward alternative for PUC's pumpstation upgrade, a new Ca state sea level rise guidance document was released.  Written for state and local planning agencies, the new guidance document contains a major revision of sea level rise projections for the entire state. 

The new numbers are shocking. 

Sea level rise planning for our project at Sloat has been using a worst case scenario of five and one half feet of sea level rise by the year 2100.  This was the worst case scenario projection which was endorsed by the Ca Coastal Commission.

Now, the state has revised the worst case sea level rise projection for 2100.  The upper end projection is now 10 feet!

Needless to say, this has major implications for our campaign work at both Sloat and Pacifica.

The state is asking all public agencies to, at a minimum, develop contingency plans for the new worst case scenario of 10' of sea level rise by 2100.  This includes projects (such as ours) that are in already in planning.  According to the Ca Ocean Protection Council, "adaptation pathways" or contingency plans for ten feet of sea level rise should be included in all projects that could be affected by the rising ocean. 

These new projections mean serious changes may need to be made both to the new Westside Pumpstation project and the long-term managed retreat and infrastructure protection plan for Sloat. Without a doubt, we will continue to track this issue. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Sharp Park and Pacifica's LCP

Managed retreat is the best way to preserve the beaches of Pacifica.

Greetings Surfriders,

Pacifica is currently undertaking its own Local Coastal Plan (LCP) update. As explained in prior posts, an LCP is a city or town’s management plan for its coastal zone.

Public meetings for Pacifica’s LCP have already begun.  Apparently, there is a contingent very hostile to any talk of managed retreat. Once again, unfounded fears are being spread linking managed retreat to neighborhood flooding at Sharp Park.

Managed retreat includes the word “managed” for a reason. Relocation of threatened shoreline structures are managed.  Serious issues such as coastal flooding are accounted for and addressed.

For example, at Sloat, San Francisco's managed retreat plan will include protections for the nearby wastewater infrastructure. Sand dunes and restored beach areas are to work in conjunction with a buried seawall system. A combination of a restored shoreline and a back-up structure are used to slow erosion, prevent storm damage, and preserve the beach.

Pacifica has an extremely challenging erosion issue.  We encourage all LCP participants to get the facts from the scientific community; and to keep an open mind about managed retreat.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Next Step: Project Engineering and Design

The new sand dune has temporarily provided a rock free beach.
Photo: Sloat Intersection, Memorial Day 2018

Greetings Surfriders,

The last stage in the campaign to restore Sloat is about to begin.  We are now firmly on the march to building the Ocean Beach Master Plan recommendation for the erosion site.

This juncture is especially critical as the fine details of the shoreline management plan are about to be set.  Key items that need to be resolved are:

1. When will the road be redirected behind the SF Zoo? How will the traffic flow be managed in a way that does not create jams and back-ups, especially on nice weather weekends?

2. Where will the new main Sloat parking be built? How many spaces will it provide, who will managed it - NPS or SF Rec. and Park?

3. When and how will the buried seawall be constructed?  What is the time-table for rock removal?

4. What sand replenishment regime can we expect to see - what triggers a replenishment project, who funds this work, etc.?

Surfrider is pressing to ensure that the community has input into these kinds of details as we enter the final planning process.

Thanks for checking in!

Monday, May 21, 2018

May Coastal Commission Hearing Recap

There is a new dune for the Sloat parking lot thanks to north Ocean Beach.

Greetings Surfriders,

We have an update on the Coastal Commission hearing from May 10. 

On a positive note, the Commission did indeed approve the Local Coastal Plan amendment for Sloat.  Thanks again to everyone who helped with this effort. Now, the restoration work outlined in the Ocean Beach Master Plan can be legally implemented.  

Re: Pumpstation: Unfortunately, we came up short on this issue.  The project was unanimously approved by the Coastal Commission despite the issues we had with the Alternatives Analysis Report and its results.

It was unfortunate to be put into a position to choose between enhanced water quality and beach preservation.  That being said, we did record our concerns; and look forward to ensuring a more rigorous review is performed regarding any future infrastructure upgrades at the site.

IMPORTANT: The Pumpstation upgrade construction will begin shortly and is due to require the closure of the northbound lanes south of Sloat over the next 2.5-3 years. 

We will have more info. on the next steps in the process to restore Sloat coming soon.  In the mean time, if you would like to help us with our campaign efforts, please contact us at anytime at 

Thanks always for staying engaged!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Coastal Commission Set to Vote on LCP / Westside Pumpstation

The Westside Pumpstation sits in a coastal hazard zone at south Ocean Beach.
It is important to get the upgrade permit done right.

Greetings Surfriders,

The next meeting of the Coastal Commission is now set.  It will be held up north in Santa Rosa on May 9 - 11.  Ocean Beach issues are on the North Central District agenda which will be heard on Thursday May 10th. Here is the official link to the agenda page. 

If you cannot attend the hearing, here's how you can help.

Just send in an email letter by Friday May 4th 5pm. Click on this link to the Coastal Commission's agenda website. Scroll down the page to Agenda Items 9A and 10A. Click Add Comment. See below for a sample letter.

Note: If you can attend the hearing show up well before 9am to fill out a speaker card.  Be prepared to speak sometime around mid to late morning at the earliest.

Thanks for keeping up the pressure to Restore Sloat!

I _____ (hike, surf, fish, enjoy etc.) Ocean Beach. While I support the proposed Westside Pumpstation upgrade and the water quality benefits it will bring to our ocean, I am concerned that the project's proposed design may lead to expanded future armoring in the area.  Furthermore a more appropriate, landward configuration alternative was rejected without a substantial analysis. 

Due to the effects of climate change and sea level rise, realignment and managed retreat of the wastewater infrastructure will eventually be needed to preserve this stretch of Ocean Beach.  Please deny this Coastal Development project and send it back for revision until a long-term management plan is first approved, and a quality alternative analysis is complete.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pumpstation Issue Postponed

A new sand replenishment project is now being installed for the erosion site. For more info, see:
While we appreciate the temporary improvement this work brings to the beach condition, it is time to implement the long-managed retreat plan. 

Greetings Surfriders,

Thanks to your help, the Coastal Commission voted to postpone the Westside Pumpstation upgrade project until the May meeting. We will have more info on how you can help with this issue by mid-April. 

A significant number of the Commissioners were sympathetic to our argument. Even those inclined to support the project - such as our own Aaron Peskin - recognized that the City should at least have an updated Local Coastal Plan approved before this new development goes thru. To view the video recorded hearing, see item 10A in the video replay.

We believe the permit postponement is a good outcome as the added time provides a window for all to consider the implications of this project, both long-term and short.

Ultimately, if California's coastal towns are going to protect their beaches from eroding away, they need to weigh the benefits of relocating development away from the water.  Seawalls and revetments typically harm beaches.  Sand replenishment is not going to be a sustainable, long-term fix.

Thanks for checking in....

Friday, March 2, 2018

New Wastewater Infrastructure at Sloat Undermines Long-Term Managed Retreat Planning

The last thing we need is for the City to place more vital infrastructure in harm's way. 
Dear Activists,

We are dismayed to report that SFPUC, unbeknown to us until very recently - is seeking a Coastal Commission permit to build new wastewater infrastructure at Sloat. 

The new SFPUC project is essentially a redundancy system and new force main for the Westside Pumpstation.  While the project will improve water quality by decreasing sewer overflow events, a significant part of the new development will be located in the erosion hazard area we are trying to restore. 

To protect this new structure, the City is de facto going to rely on the buried seawall fronting the Lake Merced Tunnel. 

See link below for project details.  Clck for Thursday's Agenda item 10A.  There you will find a link to submit public comments which are due by 5pm today!  

Application No. 2-17-0184 (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco)Application by San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to add redundancy wastewater infrastructure associated with existing Westside Pump Station at 2900 Great Hwy in Ocean Beach area on west side of San Francisco, San Francisco County.

Please send in a comment asking for the denial of CDP 2-17-0184.  Even a simple statement like the following would be great help: 


My name is _____. I surf/visit/hike/fish (whatever you do) Ocean Beach. I am writing today to ask that  CDP 2-17-0184 be denied because this development could be configured landward. Allowing this permit to be approved in the current design undermines the efforts of all stakeholders to restore this shoreline thru long-term managed retreat planning. At the minimum, the project should be placed on hold until an LCP update and long-term management plan is approved by the Coastal Commission. Thank you. 


(your name)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

LMT To Be Protected by Taraval Style Seawall

By rejecting managed retreat for the LMT, SFPUC is opting for a riskier path,
one fraught with high maintenance, to address Sloat erosion.

Greetings Surfriders,

We had a very informative chapter meeting last month. Thanks to all who attended. Ben Grant provided a nice summary of the Ocean Beach Master Plan while Bob Battalio brought us up to speed on the alternatives analysis study for the Lake Merced Tunnel (LMT).

It looks like SFPUC is going to go thru with building the Ocean Beach Master Plan’s buried seawall for the Tunnel. Engineer Bob Battalio explained that the models support the ability to protect the LMT with the low profile seawall thru 2100. However, the amount of sand dune replenishment needed to maintain the beach looks to be significantly high, especially after 2050. The Alternatives Analysis report is not finalized for publication yet, but when it is we will post a copy so you can check over the details.

While we are glad to see the City moving on a plan to clean up and restore the beach, we still contend that it is worth the investment to remove the LMT from the erosion hazard area now, and not sometime after 2050 when the cost will be much greater.

As surfers we know all too well the character of the nearshore environment at Ocean Beach. If anything, it is wildly unpredictable, subject to extreme energy, and thoroughly unforgiving. Leaving the LMT so close to the surf zone is a risky choice.  We can only hope the design works as well as the models say it will and preserves the beach.

Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Alternatives Analysis Phase Complete

Public access and wildlife habitat stand to gain from a restored beach at Sloat.

Greetings Surfriders,
During the holidays we had received word that the Alternative Analysis Report for the Lake Merced Tunnel is complete. After weighing a relocation alternative for the 14 Foot Diameter pipe, SFPUC management has apparently decided to keep the structure where it is - and to build the Ocean Beach Master Plan protection device. This would be a “Taraval” style seawall.

At our chapter meeting on February 6th (Sports Basement 1590 Bryant Street 7pm), we will hear from ESA engineer Bob Battalio who worked on the AAR.  Also, in attendance will be Benjamin Grant, SPUR Ocean Beach Master Plan Project Manager. We encourage all members, activists and supports to attend this meeting and ask questions about the results of the report.  Thanks for checking in!