Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pacifica must fight coastal erosion

City Council puts residents at risk

By Jim Wagner, Mark Stechbart        
Pacifica Tribune Aug. 30, 2017

When city council loses focus on the most critical issue facing Pacifica—ocean rise—homeowners and businesses will lose. Or maybe the warning should be homeowners will pay a huge price.
Ocean rise planning for Pacifica coastal areas is underway. Sounds ok, but this plan will decide who wins or loses—which properties are protected and which properties are left to ocean erosion.  Pacifica is faced with a policy menu ranging from uncontrolled erosion known as managed retreat to state-of-the-art engineered artificial off-shore reefs, berms, revetments, boulders and seawalls like the Dutch have used for 1,000 years.
What may shock anyone with a home or business investment along or west of  Hwy 1 is this city council has not taken a position against managed retreat. Yes you heard us right—managed retreat, letting the ocean chew its way east, is on the table for debate through this coastal planning process.
Moreover, the consultant hired by the city for $185,000 to plot the future of west of Hwy 1 has a decided fascination with managed retreat. As an example, the hired consultant wrote a letter to San Francisco stating the Sharp Park golf course should be closed and flooded to wetlands.  This plan would involve removing the protective sea wall, and letting the tides in.
Here’s the homeowner danger-- a flooded golf course with no western seawall blows a large hole in Pacifica right up to Hwy 1. It also brings the ocean to the doorstep of the south Palmetto neighborhood and west Fairway neighborhood.
Your city council hired this outfit on a 3-2 vote.
Managed retreat exposure elsewhere in town certainly involves the Rockaway business district, anywhere in west Sharp Park; the Linda Mar beach ; the middle school and all neighborhood houses.  A huge percentage of Pacifica businesses are west of Hwy 1; most of our hotels;  thousands of homes; a big chunk of our affordable rentals at the north end and millions of dollars of sewer, water, power and communication infrastructure. Let’s not forget the threat to Hwy 1, our only north-south arterial. How will anyone commute out of town if Hwy 1 is cut? How will anyone sell a home anywhere in town if potential buyers are afraid Hwy 1 will be cut?
Congresswoman Jackie Speier recently objected to a managed retreat scheme at Sharp Park, as follows:
“I write to express my opposition to proposals to abandon or prohibit the maintenance of the sea wall at Sharp Park golf course in Pacifica. Proposals like this continue a series of thinly-veiled and ideologically-motivated attacks, all unsuccessful in the courts, against the golf course, the wetlands protecting endangered and threatened species, and the nearby residential neighborhood.”
Here is our suggested work plan for Pacifica homeowners who want to keep their home value and businesses who desire to stay in business—we must make this city council agree to reject managed retreat as a "solution". Anything less threatens this community. Require the consultant to find and design solutions that protect this community.  Additionally, let’s continue to support our members of Congress, State Senate, Assembly and Supervisor as they secure funding to protect our coast.
In the last election, a billion dollar bond was approved to protect the interior of the SF Bay from ocean rise. SF Int’l airport, Google, Facebook, and Hwy 101 will be protected. So will Millbrae, Palo Alto, Foster City and Burlingame. None of those entities agreed to managed retreat, nor should they. So Pacifica can say no as well.
The rest of our task is clear. This consultant will make introductory presentations to the City Council and the Planning Commission in September, 2017. A technical working group and a Community Advisory Group will be organized, each of which will hold 3 meetings, starting in Dec., 2017. Stakeholder/community engagement meetings will also be in Dec., 2017.
As we raise this alarm, we will speak at these meetings even during the busy holiday period. You will get communications to your homes outlining progress, or asking for emails to hesitant council members who won’t commit to rejecting managed retreat.
Your home value and the economic vitality of this town are in question.   We can use existing technology to protect our coast and way of life, or you get to figure out how to move your house and get a boat for your commute.
( Wagner and Stechbart are long term Pacifica residents active in the Pacifica Business and Community PAC supporting forward looking solutions to Pacifica issues)

Submitted by Mark Stechbart


mike bell said...

Thank you Mark and Jim for your very important position on this issue.
The last Council (before Mary Ann was unethically forced out) voted to authorize the Army Corp of Engineers to begin the first step studies for replacing the sea wall. To my knowledge there is no one on Council or staff following up on the work of the Corp, keeping track of a timeline and letting the public know what the current status is. As you stated Jackie Speire, Don Horsely, Kevin Mullen and Jerry Hill all vehemently oppose putting life and property at risk via "managed retreat" and have referred to those who are promoting it as a group of people with a thinly veiled ideology.
John Keener is in favor of managed retreat.
Deirdre Martin is in favor of managed retreat (but has renamed it "save the beach" to keep the political heat off of her)
Sue Digre has not taken a clear position but usually follows Keener and Martin's lead.
Bob Battalio, the recipient of $185,000 tax dollars to write a report for these folks, has been actively promoting managed retreat for decades and actively promoted the flooding of the Sharp Park Golf Course.
The sycophantic supporters of these folks all go up to the podium on a regular basis and spew exaggerated and disastrous predictions about sea level rise which is always contradicted by the best scientific data available to us on this subject.
These folks are in reality the same radical anti-development group who have been preventing the building of affordable housing, new library, safe and functional roadways and small businesses in Pacifica for many, many decades. They have used Red-Legged frogs, San Francisco garter snakes, Mission butterflies, Snowy Plovers, threats of unbridled growth, Evil Realtors and now Sea Level Rise to manipulate the public into following their self serving view of Pacifica. The only way to stop their continuing economic destruction of Pacifica is to study the issues, learn the facts and speak out.
Pacifica should not be a failing, run down ocean town. It deserves to be a visitor serving destination with a strong economy. It can easily become a beautiful natural gem surrounded by world class destinations like San Francisco, wine country, Silicon Valley and the mighty Pacific Ocean. If the majority of average Pacificans snooze we will all loose.

Rob said...

Mr. Bell, well said. I've been following Pacifica politics for years and this council scares me for what they have done, and what they still intend to do, to Pacifica. Managed retreat has the capability to remove over 50% of the little bit of commercial economy we have and wipe hundreds of homes and rental units out of existence. Does that sound like a reasonable agenda!

Anonymous said...

Any storms like Harvey & Irma would end the managed retreat problem!

Anonymous said...

If Trump says Global Warming and Climate Change is just not true. He must be right.

Anonymous said...

Another example of the wacky propaganda being promulgated by the No on Everything cult.
Yes, if the temperature of the Pacific Ocean adjacent to Northern California rose in temperature by 40 degrees, a Harvey or Irma like storm could theoretically happen.
We should all abandon California just in case it happens.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post, as pointed out in the article, there are many things that can be done to protect our infrastructure, homes, businesses and recreational facilities west of the highway. Unfortunately those solutions are ignored and the coffers of a clearly partisan consulting company are filled by the taxpayers (aka property owners). 185,000.00 to churn out the same old non-solution. What a sham and a shame..

Anonymous said...

One word: RECALL

Anonymous said...

Three words: Just Say No

Anonymous said...

Two words: Commies Rule.

amy vegan said...

As someone who has dabbled in the study of climate change and sea level for more than a decade, I want to make a few recommendations: 1. Cities must muster up the political will and power to make the State of California and PG&E pay to UNDERGROUND ALL WIRES. This should not be individual homeowner's responsibility. Wires come down in high winds and earthquakes and cause fires! We all know California is more at risk for fire now due to long term drought.

2. Pacifica must allow landowners to build earthquake, fire and hurricane force wind resistant structures called "concrete monolithic domes" as a residence and commercial structures. Monolithic domes are strong and can be beautiful and will help Pacifica be more prepared.

3. Pacifica must locate appropriate sites for cooling centers on heatwave days to protect vulnerable people. These buildings should be retrofitted with air conditioning (via solar)?

4. Pacifica must become much more food and drinking water self sufficient.

5. Re: managed retreat vs engineering.....we must remember, in the end, nature bats last.

Anonymous said...

Good suggestions. Just remember, Nature doesn't always go in a straight line and sometimes just for fun goes round and round, upside down, inside out and backwards. Stars blow-up and life spews outward in all directions. Europe was once connected to the America's and the Mojave used to be the ocean. Running for the hills in fear of sea level rise could be running into one of nature's mischievous little punks.

Anonymous said...

Amy Vegan You left this out:

Nancy Hall, once read a book about Bio Diesel and she wanted to build a bio Diesel plant next to the waste water treatment plant.

We all know how that turned out!!

BTW are you the girl who spoke at Santa Cruz City Council?

Anonymous said...

"Pacifica must fight coastal erosion"? LOL. Yes, and while we're at it, let's fight the tides. Oh, and the surf too. Shouldn't we also fight the pull of the moon? And gravity?