Environmentalists hope to turn the tide against use of sea walls
The longtime practice of dumping huge rocks and chunks of concrete
along the coastline to stop erosion is coming under fire from those who
favor letting the shoreline retreat naturally. San Francisco's efforts
to protect Ocean Beach is the latest battleground.
By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
January 2, 2012
For years, San Francisco's Ocean
Beach has been under assault by such powerful surf that a fierce winter
storm can scour away 25 feet of bluff in just days.
The startling pace of the erosion near the San Francisco Zoo has
compelled the city to spend $5 million to shore up the crumbling bluffs.
The strategy has been simple: drop huge rocks and mounds of sand to
protect the nearby Great Highway and the sewer pipes underneath from
being destroyed by the crashing waves.
But as the enormous rocks have
piled up, adding to a jumble of concrete — chunks of curb and bits and
pieces of gutters — from parking lots that have tumbled onto the shore,
so too have the demands that the city get rid of it all and let the
coastline retreat naturally.
Now, San Francisco finds itself under fire from environmentalists, who
call the rock and rubble unsightly and harmful to the beach, and the
California Coastal Commission, which regulates development along the
state's 1,100-mile coastline but has refused to sign off on the
fortifications, some of which have sat on the shore for 15 years without
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