Monday, November 27, 2017

Pacifica Tribune: Sharp Park Sea Wall OK'd
Coastal Commission: Managed Retreat is Not Feasible

The headline in the 11-22-2017 Pacifica Tribune last week tells the story: "Sharp Park sea wall OK'd". I'd link to the story itself, but either they have not posted it on-line or I can't figure out how to find it. The article is a good summary of the recent California Coastal Commission decision granting a permit to the City of San Francisco to maintain and improve the Sharp Park sea wall. Some excerpts:
"The California Coastal Commission, recognizing the importance of the Sharp Park Sea Wall in protecting both Pacifica's historic golf course and the adjacent neighborhoods, has approved a permit to preserve and maintain the structure, including it's rip-rap armoring... 
Commission Chair Dayna Bochco... asked Commission staff what would be the likelihood of the surrounding neighborhoods being flooded without the protection of the sea wall. District Director Dan Carl said, "It's a 100 percent certainty if the berm wasn't there... you would open up a whole new can of worms with respect to Highway One and the residential neighborhoods surrounding the golf course".. 
The sea wall created a fresh-water habitat in the Laguna Salada and surrounding wetlands which are now home to two species protected under the EPA."
For anyone with a lick of common sense, this seemed an obvious outcome. You need only to look at what the Sharp Park sea wall protects:

The choice is simple - either maintain the sea wall, or play Russian roulette every winter waiting for an El Nino bullet to:
  • Flood Pacifica neighborhoods
  • Flood Highway One
  • Salt poison the managed freshwater habitat of  Laguna Salada - home to the endangered California Red Legged Frog and San Francisco Garter Snake
  • Flood the affordable recreational resource and important historic public golf course - Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park masterpiece. 
The Coastal Commission decision was made, but San Francisco Rec & Park repair and reinforcing work of the sea wall is yet to begin. The consequences of a breach would be devastating to the community, endangered species, and Pacifica civic fiscal fortunes. To borrow a phrase: Winter is Coming.

We got lucky last year. The Pacific storm bullets are loaded in the chamber and the cylinder is spinning. Any Pacificans in favor of sea wall work starting before old man winter pulls the trigger might want to attend the Monday November 27 Pacifica City Council meeting and comment on Item 11:
"11.   Resolution supporting the City and County of San Francisco for Sharp Park Golf Course facility berm and maintenance repair and improvements, and incorporating flood mitigation, report, resolution."
It should be an easy decision - right?  Well, it should've been an easy decision for the Coastal Commission, yet 3 of the 12 Commissioners argued against granting the permit. The Pacifica City Council should send a strong, clear message to San Francisco stressing the importance and urgency of maintaining the berm now.

This is not a hypothetical concern. We know what will happen if  the sea wall is breached. We know because it happened before. The smaller un-reinforced berm that preceded the existing structure was over-topped by the 1982-83 El Nino storms. We know the population of endangered California Red-Legged frogs living in the managed fresh water Laguna Salada habitat was devastated by the berm failure. In a "My Turn" letter published in the same Pacifica Tribune edition cited earlier, Pacifica resident Robine Runneals explains exactly what happened to neighborhoods:

Robine Renneals 
"Since the mid-1970's I have owned a home in Pacifica's West Sharp Park neighborhood. I live west of the Coast Highway, south of City Hall, and a block and a north of the golf course. When the Sharp Park levee wall breached in 1983, you could paddle a kayak to the foot of my street. Linda Mar flooded too that year. References are made to the sea wall, but to Pacifica locals it's the Sharp Park levee. 
With this in mind, on Nov. 8 I drove to Bodega Bay with a friend who lives in Fairway Park, to testify at the California Coastal Commission's hearing on San Francisco's application for a permit to maintain, repair, and add trail improvements to the Sharp Park levee. As homeowners we spoke in favor of keeping the levee -- in addition to protecting our neighborhoods, it also protects the golf and its wetlands and frogs and snakes, and serves the Coastal Trail between the Pacifica Pier and Mori Point. It's all good."

I also attended the California Coastal Commission November 8 meeting in Bodega Bay to speak in favor of the seawall permit approval.  Supporters included the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, other Pacifica residents, and community advocates.  Among them, Paul Slavin:
Paul Slavin
"I’m a resident of Fairway Park in Pacifica, which is adjacent to the Sharp Park golf course.  The golf course and hundreds of my neighbors have been protected for decades by the embankment guarding the western side of the golf course.  The anti-golf extremists for years have objected to the maintenance of the levee in the hopes that the deterioration of the berm would result in the destruction of the golf course.  If that happens, the Fairway Park neighborhood would also face destruction.  The extremists contended some years ago that smaller dikes or levees, placed closer to the residences, would provide protection.  But while they would like to see the existing embankment begin deteriorating right now, and have advocated for its removal for years, no plans have been made for the replacement dikes.  No research, no engineering, no funding, no real thought about that.  It looks to me like the Republicans’ plan to replace Obamacare, which was never actually a real plan.  The loss of the levee at Sharp Park and the sea wall to the north would be devastating to Pacifica.  I urge the Commission to support the strengthening, the armoring, and the regular maintenance of whatever structure is necessary to protect our community.”

In my humble opinion, this permit approval was even more important for Sharp Park than the SF Board of Supervisors Natural Resource Plan approval last spring.  At the hearing for the resulting permit approval commissioners learned why any notion of "managed retreat" permitting the erosion of the berm/seawall is unrealistic, would invite catastrophic devastation and is simply not feasible. This was confirmed by Coastal Commission District Director Dan Carl as noted in the Pacifica Tribune article at the top of the page (100% probability of the neighborhoods flooding without the sea wall), as well reports by the staff of San Francisco Recreation and Park Department who are responsible for maintaining the Sea Wall. Spencer Potter of  San Francisco Rec and Park:
Spencer Potter
"Managed retreat was one of the alternatives that was looked at under the six alternatives that we provided in the analysis to the Coastal Commission.  And we found managed retreat at this time to be infeasible for several reasons – both the cost it would take to move the golf course and the habitat and the amenities and I mean even the residential areas that might be at risk – inland, would be enormous.  
 Additionally, as discussed earlier, moving the endangered species habitat raises a variety of issues related to  whether you can even do that, and whether there’s a suitable habitat present.  So we looked seriously at the managed retreat option, but at this time we do not think it’s something that we can commit to... " 

Net.. net ...  This was an extremely positive outcome. 30+ years of screwed up permitting for the sea wall by the City of San Francisco was cleared away in a stroke. A solid pragmatic vote by the Coastal Commission confirmed that San Francisco must continue to maintain and improve the existing sea wall to protect the course, habitat, and neighborhoods.  The common sense decision to maintain the seawall is set for the foreseeable future. We just need the work to get done sooner rather than later.

That November 8 Coastal Commission hearing was great local political drama, and a video can be viewed at Cal Span [LINK HERE].  The Sharp Park Hearing is Agenda Item No. 9 (CDP 2-17-0702), starting at 1:01:05 and lasts about 90 minutes. Commission Chair Bochco’s exchange with Director Carl can be found at 2:27:25 – 2:28:49).

UPDATE - 11/28/2017

I attended the Pacifica City Council meeting and spoke my piece, as did a number of Pacifica residents and advocates for common sense. I wanted the Council to see the first two minutes of this video with  highlights from the Sharp Park sea wall Coastal Commission hearing.  Unfortunately, computer display facilities were not available, so I'll post it here:

The entire video is about 15 minutes and features the issues highlighted in this post: Commissioner Bochco saying she opposes sea walls in general, but supports a sea wall like Sharp Park protecting habitat and structures; SF RecPark's Potter stating the sea wall is necessary to protect the endangered species habitat, discussing the staff analysis of alternatives like "managed retreat" and finding it insane (my words not his - he used "infeasible");  Commissioner and progressive SF Supervisor Peskin stating that we cannot ignore the existing assets protected by the Sharp Park seawall; Commissioner Groome outlining the cultural and fiscal importance of the golf course and park to the city of Pacifica; Residents of Sharp Park and Fairway Park pleading for protection of their neighborhoods.

All's well that end's well:

The City of Pacifica will be on the record with a letter to leadership in the City of San Francisco expressing the need and urgency to begin work on long deferred Sharp Park sea wall maintenance before the winter storms.

Common sense and rational practicality carried the day by a narrow 3-2 vote.

But... Pacificans - you still have two votes on the Council that don't have any concern for or see any urgency in the possibility of winter storms breaching the Sharp Park sea wall.

So there's that.

Mike Wallach
Fix Pacifica Foreign Correspondent
San Francisco Bureau
x-posted on MW Mobile Blog


Pacifica is dirty dusty and broken said...

Robin was the person who kept the brew pub out of her neighborhood cause of traffic parking and noise

Yes boy n girls the Half Moon Brewing Company would have been located on Palmetto and called the Pacifica Brewing Company!

Revenue Pacifica doesn't need any revenue.

When something effects these Nimbys and Gang Of No Members they all come out of the woodwork

John "I vote no everytime" Keener votes no!

wake up Pacifica said...

Take a few steps back, breath deeply and ponder this: Bob Battalio has been the single most persistent advocate in Pacifica of "managed retreat" in Sharp Park for decades. He provided the bullets for Brent Plater's many law suit attacks attempting to shut down Sharp Park Golf Course. He wants to dismantle the "rip-rap" sea wall north of the pier. He wants the berms south of the pier to wash away. He believes that it is our foolish tough luck for having developed businesses and residences on Beach Blvd and we should just cut our losses and retreat eastward, all the way to Highway One if necessary.
He softened his rhetoric long enough during the last election to garner a $185,000 payback gift from our illegitimate council to write an ESA report that will provide the basis and blueprint for future council direction on coastal protection (aka "managed retreat").
Deirdre Martin, stole Mary Ann's seat on council with the help of her radical socialist mentor/manager Cynthia Kaufman. This highly unethical attack on our last local election flipped the majority vote on council away from common sense and a sworn duty to protect our resources and citizens in favor of faux-enviro populism. The goal is to kill any imagined threat of growth or development by prohibiting the construction of affordable housing, encouraging traffic congestion, deferring the repair of our dilapidated infrastructure and hobbling commerce. Literally ANYTHING that will serve the selfish "I got mine, screw everyone else" cult is considered fair game as a means to an end with zero concern for choking the life out of Pacifica. Even the oft maligned Coastal Commission has more common sense than the mal-practitioners on council.
Keener, Deirdre and Digre will, if by no other means than delay, do anything to NOT defend our coast. Their NOBY puppet masters will accept nothing less.

Markus said...

Nothing will be done by our hijacked City Council majority of 3, until a huge storm floods the golf course and the adjoining neighborhoods. Then shortly after when the lawsuits begin mounting against both cities of San Francisco and Pacifica for failing to make the necessary maintenance and any needed reinforcement of the coastal berm and seawalls. It maybe too late by then to affectively reverse the damage. I am wondering if it is possible to actually sue individual members of our council for not doing their job of protecting our neighborhoods and private and public property. It's so ironic that the majority of 3, member Martin unethically stole her seat on a technicality and member Keener who's well known for his backing of "managed retreat", have only lived in Pacifica for a few years. They are well on their way to destroying our city.

Sharon said...

Can I say Houston? Listening to the drivel going on at the council chambers right now.

Anonymous said...

By all means we need to pursue damage lawsuits directly from these three idiots. They have been nothing but dishonest and incompetent in their offices and have already brought great harm and divisiveness to our city. They are gambling with our lives and our property.
They are reprehensible. They are the true enemies of Pacifica.

mw said...

I attended the City Council Meeting and updated the post. Contrary to the pessimistic forecasts in some of these comments, the vote was 3-2 in favor of sending an urgent message to San Francisco leaders to begin work on long deferred sea wall maintenance.

Keener flipped to the "common sense" caucus. You guys know this Council better than me. Is there reason to hope there is a new "majority of 3" on the Council?

Based on the mostly incoherent "debate", it's impossible to know exactly what the letter to SF will say, but it sounded like it was moving in the right direction. We'll just have to wait until we see it.

Still, I'm optimistic. SF is on notice.

Anonymous said...

Keener played it smart. The letter to SF won't make a damn bit of difference but it satisfies the doomsday crowd. There is no "long deferred sea wall maintenance." SF has always done what it wanted to the berm. The permit was after-the-fact for construction already done. There is no specific repair or maintenance work planned, and nothing will be done before the winter storms. The permit just allows SF to do whatever it wants in the future.

Steve Sinai said...

Occasionally one of the three NIMBYS on Council makes a rational decision, but I wouldn't count on it happening often.

"Incoherent" debate sounds par for the course at Pacifica City Council meetings.

mike bell said...

Can anyone clarify if all this talk about the sea wall is limited to the berms west of the golf course and south of the pier. Is the revetment seawall north of the pier, along Beach Blvd covered by this ruling as well?
This north of the pier section of the wall is very beat up and may not fare very well if we have a strong winter storm(s). Is there an emergency plan to repair the wall and reinforce with "on hand" granite boulders? Life and property is at stake. Unfortunately the "managed retreat" crowd in Pacifica has no life or property in this part of town and don't really seem to care about anyone living there.

Anonymous said...

The coastal commission permit is only about the part of the sea wall that San Francisco owns - the part west of the golf course.

mike bell said...

In other words, all property owners on or near Beach Blvd are in a highly risky and potentially deadly predicament and the city is knowingly doing nothing about it.
Very foolish when you consider that a class action lawsuit will cripple the entire city.

Anonymous said...

Mike Bell Did you live on Beach Blvd before the seawall?

mike bell said...

Make your point.

Anonymous said...

What should the city do?

Sharon said...

Build a real seawall, not a retaining wall

m said...

Infrastructure repair and maintain a public right of way.
Protect the sewer, gas, electric, water and cable lines running under the entire length of Beach Blvd. Work closely with Jackie Spear, Kevin Mullen, Don Horsley, Jerry Hill and the ARMY Corps of Engineers who all support the repair and/or replacement of the wall north of the pier to protect life and property.
Failure to do so is malfeasance and any loss of property or life will have severe consequences. Pacifica will be publicly liable. Digre, Keener and Martin will be personally liable because they are the 3-2 majority keeping this whole problem on the back burner and endangering the public with their tactical delay.

Anonymous said...

LOL. Good luck suing 3 of 5 council members for ... uh ... not doing something that.all 5 of them didn't do Your legal theory is unusual. Go ahead and knock yourself out.

Anonymous said...

Mike O'Neill and Sue Vaterlous have voted yes 100% of the time on any actions that would lead to repair/replace retaining wall north of the pier. County, State and Federal agencies can only proceed (or not) at the behest of the 3-2 majority council.
Martin, Keener and Digre shoulder the entire liability of property and/or lives that are lost in the event of a catastrophic failure of the retaining wall and/or the loss of property values due to their malfeasance.
These three "fringe" council members are pandering to a very tiny minority of NOBY ideologues. They are putting the residents of West Sharp in great jeopardy as well as the entire city's existence subsequent to massive lawsuits.

Bun King said...

We need a third 100% yes vote against the folly of Managed Retreat. Either a post-federal retirement Mary Ann, or Mike O'Neill's good friend and buddy Eric Ruchames in either Sue Digre's or John Keener's seat.

The Local Libertarian said...

Should people have the freedom to live by the beach?
- Yes
Should they be allowed to protect their homes as they see fit?
- Yes
Is it the responsibility of the community to protect the homes of those who chose the freedom to live by the beach along with the risk that it entails?
- No

City of San Francisco will protect their property.
Likewise anyone who chooses to do so might petition Coastal Commission.

But I don't think it is the city's responsibility to build a sea wall along the length of the coast line.

Anonymous said...

"Mike O'Neill and Sue Vaterlous have voted yes 100% of the time on any actions that would lead to repair/replace retaining wall north of the pier." What were those actions specifically and how did the other 3 council members vote on them?

"Martin, Keener and Digre shoulder the entire liability of property and/or lives that are lost in the event of a catastrophic failure of the retaining wall and/or the loss of property values due to their malfeasance." What specifically did they do that is "malfeasance"? Or are you accusing them of not doing something? If so, what did they not do that O'Neill and Vaterlaus did do?

As I said, your legal theory is unusual. It's also crap.

Anonymous said...

Building a new sea wall north of the pier will surely cost upwards of $50 million. Who is going to pay for that?

Anonymous said...

Over $1 billion in Pacifica value is threatened by ocean rise or erosion. Even the 3:29PM post $50M guess price tag is worth it to protect almost 1,000 homes, hwy 1, all our hotels and sewer, water and communication lines. SF is gonna spend $350M on the water front and piers. On the June 2016 ballot, Measure AA passed to place $12-a-year parcel tax to raise $500M over 20 years to protect the inside of the bay (SFO, 101, Facebook office). Pacifica will get destroyed if the shore is not protected. That means local, state and federal funding.

Or we can pay to move all the sewer lines east, maybe thru 3:29PM's house!

Anonymous said...

So you think sea level rise will take out all of Pacifica up to and including highway 1. That's gonna take one helluva huge sea wall to stop it.

Anonymous said...

the 10:35 post is simply disinformation, and deliberately so. Uncontained erosion gets a hole started that moves north, south and east. It always starts small. Then after 10-20 years we have mounting property losses. Thoughtful shoreline protection starts now (it's called advanced planning) while it's relatively inexpensive. All ocean rise scenarios can be defended. But doing nothing gets us screwed. Whatever post 10:35AM agenda might be, hyperventilating to inaction is not the solution.

10:35 said...

If my post was deliberate disinformation then so was 8:19. I was referring to 8:19's "Pacifica will get destroyed if the shore is not protected." I don't have an agenda and I'm not advocating inaction. 8:19's doomsday scenario is hyperventilating.

Anonymous said...

50 feet of backyard has been lost in Manor over 30 years. Several apartment buildings and homes have been destroyed (or torn down to keep out of surf) due to erosion. Hwy 1 at surfers beach in Princeton harbor has been reinforced after a very near miss road cut. Coastal Commission says managed retreat is not feasible. West sharp park flooded in early 1980s due to golf course berm breach. Not dealing with shoreline protection promptly sounds destructive to me! Authors of posts 10:35 and 2:21 are either not paying attention, simply casual about this issue, or (blank) you fill it the answer...

10:35 & 2:21 said...

I am the author of those posts. I'm paying very close attention to the issue and I am anything but casual about. But people saying things like 8:19's "Pacifica will get destroyed if the shore is not protected" are irresponsible extremists. The issue is not whether or not shoreline protection should be done, but exactly what shoreline protection should be done. What is specifically ibeing proposed, if anything? All plans, as well as no plan, have positive and negative consequences. It's easy to say empty phrases like shoreline protection, but what exactly IS that shoreline protection? The devil is in the details.

The Truth said...

The Libertarian was John Keeners campaign manager.

The Real 10:35 & 2:21 said...

Dan Carl is God of the Coastal Commission, and he took a big wet dump on Managed Retreat, methinks! It's a precedent. The endangered species can breathe a sigh of relief!

Steve Sinai said...

@The Truth, I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Sinai I have heard Keener and his campaign manager both laughing about it.

Chris Fogel said...

It's nice to see that Fix Pacifica is a safe space for budding science fiction writers such as 4:00 and 4:26 to hone their craft.

Anonymous said...

Chris Fogel was Keener's campaign manager.

Anonymous said...

Fogel thank you for giving us "Vote No On Everything" John Keener. You guys are part of the reason why Pacifica is broke, dirty, and falling apart.

mike bell said...

I've met Chris Fogel on a few occasions and he strikes me as a bright, stand-up guy.
I think he was honestly taken a-back by Keener's radical turn after he was elected.
Does anyone remember (or even care) that one of the main points of Keener's campaign was a promise to restore trust in our local government? laughable...
Deirdre Martin's campaign manager, Cynthia Kaufman, on the other hand is the polar opposite of of Chris Fogel. Deirdre Martin's supporters made the same deal with the devil as the GOP made with Trump and now Roy Moore. The "end justifies the means", honesty and integrity be damned!

Chris Fogel said...

7:38, I understand your anger and I suppose much of it is deserved. That being said, one of these days I'll share my views and I think you'll find they're pretty much in line with what Mike said.

Markus said...

At Local Libertarian Dec 1 @ 1:32pm.
Should people have the freedom to live in the hills?
Should they be allowed to protect their homes as they see fit?
Is it the responsibility of the community to protect homes of those who chose to live on hills with the possibility of slides?
I hope you see how ridiculously insensitive and selfish your comment was.

Markus said...

Anon Dec 1, 3:27pm.
The answer to both your questions about our council members is: Keener, Martin and Digre voted for EAS aka Bob Battalia aka managed retreat. Like no one knows what EAS is all about? So after stealing last year's election, they had the gull to give the contract to a firm who's synonymous with Managed retreat. What humangous balls. I have to laugh to avoid crying.

Steve Sinai said...

I agree with Mike about Chris Fogel. Last time I saw Chris, he said he doesn't even talk to Keener anymore. Mike is also correct about how the right-wing extremists running Washington and left-wing extremists running Pacifica aren't all that different.

The person I suspect to be Local Libertarian moved to Texas almost 10 years ago. He always made a big deal out of being a Libertarian. He also had some kind of dispute with Fogel, which is why Chris is being dragged into this.

The Local Libertarian said...


Look, my generosity is not unlimited. And I would assume that is the case for almost everyone. My good neighborliness is limited to the extent in so far as your choices are not going to create a financial/emotional burden for me.

I am not going to stop you from building a sea wall to protect your property should you so desire. But I honestly don't have the money to fund your enterprise should you have your cup out.

Would you rather that I lie to you?

Creating public debt to fund a very narrow agenda has never worked.
As a matter of historical fact, such an exercise results in loss for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Steve your way of thinking is the very reason why we shall never have peace in the Middle East and Pacifica

Let it go man, let it go!

Anonymous said...

LOL@ Steve and Mike!

Seriously, are we to believe as his campaign manager (that would be his number one man) he was duped and really was unaware of Keener's true diabolical agenda? Seriously? I mean, I don't really know what's worse: knowing the truth and duping us into thinking Keener was a moderate and that he should get our vote, or as his number one man, and probably his closest confidant, being duped himself by the Vreelandesque Keener. I don't know Mr. Fogel personally but it sure appears he is playing both sides of the fence here with this latest revelation that he no longer communicates with the man he so diligently and loyally advocated for.

To Steve Sinai: I don't know what your problem is with this Mr. Texas (???), but perhaps it's time you give them the benefit of the doubt as you so generously do to Mr. Fogel. Actually, it's more like a complete leap of faith.

Anonymous said...

7:43 It's part of a peoples way of keeping grudge feuds and family disputes going back 5,000 years.

Defender of Oppressed Peoples (including John Keener) said...

Pacifica Politics, who will pull a white rabbit out of hat next!

Fogel published a photo of his absentee ballot in 2014, with the caption, "Keener for the Win!". He was an ardent supporter.

Anonymous said...

Of course Fogel was an ardent supporter of Keener in 2014. He was his campaign manager at the time. This was stated before. Somebody's missing a few pieces of their jigsaw puzzle right now.

Idol Mind said...

@7:43 I knew Jim Vreeland and John Keener is not even a wee bit "Vreelandesque".

Anonymous said...

Idol Mind... Deirdre is the correct comparison to Vreeland. She lies, manipulates, brags and deceives just like he did. Cynthia Kaufman, her campaign manager, even accused fellow Pacificans of killing Vreeland. Had to throw that one in just to remind everyone how screwy this twosome really is.
Pacifica, save yourself and dump these NOBY, NIMBY and SOCIALISTIC "I Got Mine's" before they do anymore irreparable damage to our town.

Steve Sinai said...

Martin and her handlers are a lot worse than Vreeland.