Ocean Beach due for an overhaul

For a city whose No. 1 industry depends so heavily on attracting visitors to an inviting environment, San Francisco has been curiously inconsistent about maintaining or enhancing its most unique and enviable features, such as The Embarcadero and Golden Gate Park. The City’s five-mile western shoreline of Ocean Beach has been sadly forgotten and neglected for decades.

Even in its presently unkempt state, Ocean Beach undeniably retains traces of a rough and semi-wild charm. It is surprising to see a Northern California beach just across from city streets, where surfer culture is untrammeled and dogs frolic freely with their owners, while the nights uniquely belong to cheerful bonfire parties.

However, such activities are relative minority tastes. A busy weekend at the beach would bring no more than 10,000 daily visitors, while only 2,000 beachgoers are rated a busy weekday crowd.

Ocean Beach is almost startlingly bereft of even the most basic public amenities. There is not a single public bathroom, which leads people to relieve themselves against the graffiti-defaced beach walls. Garbage often litters the beach, a mess encouraged by the inadequate number of overflowing trash cans.

Emergency call boxes and sufficient lighting are largely nonexistent. Homeless people are generally on hand. And the pitch-dark, sporadically patrolled night streets make it a near-irresistible temptation for drive-by vandals to smash numerous car windows in the parking lots.

Although the beach is owned by the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, San Francisco is responsible for maintaining all streets and parking areas up to the sand. And finally, Ocean Beach is back on City Hall’s radar. Calling The City’s western shoreline a “natural treasure,” Mayor Gavin Newsom in March announced the formation of the Ocean Beach Vision Council to prepare a beach revival plan encouraging environmentally sustainable public access and recreation.

The council’s first town-hall meeting is Thursday, hosted by Supervisors Carmen Chu and Jake McGoldrick. Twelve such community meetings are scheduled, and already it is evident that much disagreement exists about Ocean Beach’s future.

Some neighbors want the area to remain exactly as is, to avoid attracting more traffic and crowds. Others just want a few restrooms and better garbage pickup. Surfers and dog owners have their own strong priorities. And more visionary planners see the possibility of interesting commercial development that doesn’t turn the whole place into Coney Island.

All of these conflicting viewpoints must somehow be reconciled, but it is good that some city attention is focusing on Ocean Beach at last. One small example of what could be done to revive the area for a variety of distinctive uses is the Beach Chalet, a near-abandoned 1925 architectural landmark that is now a destination brewery-restaurant with spectacular lobby murals still intact for public view.

General OpinionOpinion

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Muni’s K-Ingleside trains will resume service after a long hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
K-Ingleside train to return on May 15

Announcement comes on the heels of pressure from Supervisor Myrna Melgar

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Vigil, march honors those killed by police

Deaths of Daunte Wright, Roger Allen and others prompt renewed calls for defunding

A Recology employee stands at the comapany’s recycling facility on Pier 96 in 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
Nuru scandal: Feds charge second former Recology executive with bribery

A second former Recology executive is facing charges for allegedly bribing ex-Public… Continue reading

Kiana Williams
Stanford’s Kiana Williams drafted by WNBA champion Seattle Storm

Kiana Williams is going from one championship team to another. A senior… Continue reading

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, is consoled at a vigil to honor her brother, who was killed by Daly City Police on April 7, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supporters march for SF man killed by Daly City police

Struggle over fake gun ends in shooting of 44-year-old Roger Allen, DA says

Most Read