Coastal Erosion in SF Prompts Planning and Debate

City planners are looking at ways to reconfigure the city’s western edge

One of the challenges for the Ocean Beach Master Plan is how to slow the erosion of Ocean Beach's sandy cliffs.

San Francisco’s Ocean Beach is eroding; that’s not up for debate. But planners are still figuring out the best way to handle the erosion that’s already happening, and how to prepare for sea level rise. And that’s going to take a lot of planning: Ocean Beach itself is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service, but there are also the nearby residential neighborhoods to consider; plus the Great Highway, a wastewater treatment plant, the parking lot at the beach, endangered species, surfers, dog walkers and the occasional hopeful sun bather.

The Ocean Beach Bulletin, a local news site and one of KQED’s News Associates, has been covering the development of the new plan for San Francisco’s coastline, called the Ocean Beach Master Plan, which will attempt to address erosion and rising sea levels, while balancing the myriad social and environmental needs.

Over the weekend, the New York Times weighed in, too:

The question facing at least eight local, state and federal agencies boils down to this: With California officials expecting climate change to raise sea levels here by 14 inches by 2050, should herculean efforts be made to preserve the beach, the pipe and the plant, or should the community simply bow to nature?

The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, or SPUR, which is coordinating the Ocean Beach Master Plan, will unveil the final document next month.

Coastal Erosion in SF Prompts Planning and Debate 1 February,2018Molly Samuel

3 thoughts on “Coastal Erosion in SF Prompts Planning and Debate”

  1. Actually whether Ocean Beach is eroding and how much IS up for debate.  There is sea rise, and it is increasing, that is true.  But erosion, technically, only occurs on man manipulated and seawall armed shores.  There is no such thing as ‘erosion’ of a natural beach, as that beach is naturally stabilized and balanced.  What the NYTs story missed, and what the SPUR process ignores is that SF artificially built too far out over the ocean and then proceeded to illegally dump hazardous debris without permits for 20 years.  SF destroyed the beach, and the sand has washed away AS A DIRECT RESULT of SF’s illegal dumping.  That debris must be removed.  The SPUR analysis is an accommodation of SF’s seawall debacle, and will allow and facilitate more dumping in the future.  

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Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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