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December 22, 2009


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Ocean Beach does not have waves crashing at every high tide against a rip-rap seawall in a desperate attempt to keep the waves from reclaiming a handful of private houses, as in the case of much of Pacifica.

The Ocean Beach parking lot has a concrete wall about 50-100 feet away from the low-tide point, which as I recall is there to raise it off of the beach to the level of Great Highway (which is on a berm), to keep the wind from blowing sand all over the parking lot (which it does anyway), and possibly to protect from storm surges. It's not getting pummeled all day and night, all year long.

The berm is there because that whole section of the Sunset is below sea level, due to the water being pumped out of what were then marshes and dunes by the quaint Dutch-style windmills that are still there, around 100 years ago.

I have been to Ocean Beach many times. I don't recall ever seeing signs there that say "CAUTION! WAVES MAY BREAK OVER SEAWALL"... because there isn't one, and they don't.

There's got to be more to this than meets the eye. Ocean Beach in SF has been "armored" for at least 50 years and the beach there looks like it's doing fine. I also remember in 1970 going to the end of Rockaway Beach Avenue with a friend to watch the waves crashing against the seawall. To me it doesn't seem to be proved that putting the rocks on the beach is going to cause the beach to disappear. (Unless you count the fact that the rocks are now on top of the beach.)
I've also looked up information on the formation of beaches with the Army Corp of Engineers. According to what I read, beaches are formed by the sand coming out of the river systems being deposited on the coast.

The Dutch have an unusual situation. The land is pretty much entirely reclaimed from the ocean. There are no naturally occurring flora or fauna. Every plant and stone was placed there by a human being. No offense to The Netherlands, but I can't see the whole world trying to fit that model.

Tell the Dutch to "work with nature" and tear down their dikes. I'm sure they'll benefit from that.

When my wife and I bought our first and only property in Linda Mar, we were adamant about going to open houses. One house we visited in Montara was about 200 feet from the ocean. The street that divided the house from the ocean was buckled as if a major earthquake had just rippled through the area. I asked the real estate agent if there was any danger of the house collapsing into the ocean. I was assured that there was no such danger. I am not blaming real estate agents for selling tomorrow's ocean floor, but why should the public lose out because someone didn't do their homework? I don't see an easy solution, just a win-lose situation.

It's a fine sentiment until it's your own home that's in danger.

California law states that all beaches are public property. When sea walls are built, the beach washes out, and the public loses. We lose while property owners are rewarded with private oceanfront property. One local example is Nick's Restaurant. The parking lot at Nick's should be the beach. I used to have a good photo of this from atop the hill south of Nick's. One can clearly see how the parking lot has destroyed more than a third of the beach.

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