Anyone who’s visited South Ocean Beach recently knows there’s still a bunch of rip rap and a very eroded beach at Sloat. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) recently presented their long-term solution for this area and Surfrider was surprised to find a project proposal that departed from decades of work with the community to envision something more resilient.

Project Rendering from SFPUC’s Draft Environmental Impact Report. The steep slope of the dunes and existence of a buried seawall make the area vulnerable to erosion. As the tide rises, the slope will also make this beach difficult to walk and use as ocean access. The walking path is de facto armoring/ ‘hold the line’ infrastructure that makes it harder for the City to make space for the coast as sea levels rise.

Surfrider submitted a letter about why we think the plan sacrifices beach resources and beach users, and how we think the plan could be better. At the very least, we think SFPUC needs to figure out how to make room for a real dune project in the area that doesn’t require constant artificial sand replenishment. It’s unrealistic that dumping sand on the beach a few times a year will ensure that the massive seawall that is planned for the area stays buried (plus, this is a very costly strategy in the long-term.)

Surfrider wants SFPUC to take a step back and figure out how to maintain the beach at Sloat in light of the rising seas and storm surge that we all know is coming. Modeling of extreme storm scenarios estimates that seas could rise 10 feet or more by 2100, and SFPUC’s choice to guard its coastal wastewater treatment infrastructure with a giant ‘buried’ wall represents a hold-the-line strategy that will eventually fail. In the meantime, the public will pay for the City to truck sand up and down the beach, and will lose access to and enjoyment of the beach when the wall becomes exposed and contributes further to erosion.