Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paul Slavin's seawall presentation to City Council

Dear Mayor Nihart and City Council Members:

As a resident of the Fairway Park neighborhood of Pacifica I have become increasingly concerned with the structural integrity of the Sharp Park Seawall, which protects my home and family from the ocean. I am joined in this concern by many of my neighbors, and by residents of the Sharp Park district, who also shelter behind the seawall. I present to you tonight the signatures of over 190 of these citizens who have signed a petition supporting an Army Corps of Engineers study of the seawall, a necessary step to intelligently determine future action.

In addition to the residential neighborhoods at its northern and southern ends, the seawall also protects the freshwater habitat of the federally protected California Red Legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake, as well as the historic Sharp Park Golf Course. The top of the seawall constitutes a segment of the California Coastal Trail, connecting the Palmetto Avenue business district to Mori Point, and is one of the most popular strolling, jogging and dog-walking venues in town.
The portion of the seawall which runs along the western edge of the Sharp Park Golf Course was the subject of a study conducted by ARUP North America Ltd. for the San Francisco Public Works Department, and dated December 17, 2009. I enclose a copy of the text of the ARUP report; the full report, including tables, photographs and graphs, is available on line.1
1 ARUP North America Ltd., “Sharp Park Sea Wall Evaluation”, Dec. 17, 2009: http://sf-recpark.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/meetings/Recreation and Park Commission/supporting/2009/item10SharpParkAttachments121709.pdf

The ARUP study concluded that the Sharp Park Seawall is at high risk of being overtopped or breached in the event of a “100-year” storm event such as occurred in 1983. The report includes photographs (including Figure 18) of severe erosion on the seawall, and commented, “Large erosion rills are present at many locations along the seawall, and accordingly the risk of breaching is greatest at these locations.” (Page 7)
ARUP made a series of alternative repair suggestions and concluded that further study is necessary to formulate an appropriate response plan. They noted that the Pacifica-owned portion of the seawall along Beach Boulevard is substandard, and at many points is significantly lower than the seawall area to the south. (See ARUP Report, pages 5, 8, and 9)

In light of the foregoing, we request that the City of Pacifica, through its Mayor and City Council, take all possible measures to insure the continued safety of our homes and property, both public and private, provided by the Sharp Park Seawall. These measures should include:

1) A request to the City of San Francisco to expedite repairs on their portion of the structure containing erosion rills. With the lessons learned on the Esplanade in mind, we note that timely, relatively inexpensive maintenance can protect us from far more costly damage down the road. A few truck-loads of fill applied to a couple of problem spots right now could make a big difference when the next storm hits.

2) Pursue all avenues to obtain funding for an Army Corps of Engineers study of the seawall. Whatever decisions concerning the seawall may be made in the future, the Corps of Engineers will have to be involved. Council may wish to convey a letter of appreciation to Congresswomen
Jackie Speier for her Dec. 1, 2009, Water Resources Development Act grant application, and offer support for future efforts.

3) Actively seek multi-jurisdictional cooperation on the protection of our coast-side community and our popular public golf course.
Failure of the seawall would result in catastrophic personal and financial losses that would reverberate throughout the entire area. Pacifica should help lead the way towards a regional solution of shared responsibility and liability. We are aware of the current discussions City Manager Rhodes is having with San Francisco and San Mateo, and eagerly await their final report.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I’m sure you share the concern of your fellow-citizens, and will diligently pursue a satisfactory resolution. I, and many others, will gladly assist in any way possible.

Paul Slavin
Fairway Park

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