SF looks for ways to keep Ocean Beach afloat

Efforts are underway by city leaders to keep Ocean Beach from eroding further by updating a program with specific actions to combat sea level rise.

The San Francisco Planning Commission on Thursday will hear new information about fighting coastal erosion at Ocean Beach, which is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and erosion since significant parts of it are already below sea level.

The area south of Sloat Boulevard known as South Ocean Beach is already experiencing problems. Coastal erosion has damaged the Great Highway, jeopardized the Ocean Treatment Plant and closed some beach parking in the area.

Increased frequency and severity of storms combined with sea level rise are taking their toll on Ocean Beach. By 2050, the sea level around San Francisco is expected to rise seven to 15 inches and by 2100, is predicted to rise in total between 26 to 46 inches, according to San Francisco’s 2015 Climate and Health Profile Report.

As part of an effort to mitigate the problem, the California Coastal Commission and the State Ocean Protection Council in 2015 awarded a grant to update San Francisco’s Local Coastal Program to incorporate current recommendations for Ocean Beach.

The California Coastal Commission, authorized by the California Coastal Act, has oversight of the entire California coastline. Yet, the California Coastal Commission relies on local government guidance in managing waterfront property within their area through certification of local coastal programs.

San Francisco’s local coastal program, known as the Western Shoreline Plan, covers The City’s western shoreline and was approved and certified by the California Coastal Commission in 1986. The purpose of this proposed amendment is to address sea-level rise, erosion and coastal flood hazards as well as manage South Ocean Beach area.

Through a collaborative 18-month effort with local government committees and citizen advisory groups, San Francisco’s Ocean Beach Master Plan was created in 2012.

Now, city officials are seeking local approval for incorporating portions of the master plan recommendations to amend the San Francisco’s Local Coastal Program. The thorniest issue around San Francisco’s western shoreline will be managing the coastal erosion affecting the beach and bluffs of the South Ocean Beach area.

Once the amendments are approved, San Francisco’s Local Coastal Program will be forwarded to the California Coastal Commission for certification.

Ocean Beach began managing the shoreline with dune stabilization efforts in the 1860’s. Over the 150 year history, the ocean has been pushed back in certain areas by as much as 200 feet.

Patrick Fitzgerald
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Patrick Fitzgerald

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