Summary of Emergency Town Hall on Sloat Erosion

Summary of Emergency Town Hall on Sloat Erosion

I just got back from the emergency town hall meeting held at the Park Chalet about the erosion problem at Sloat.  There was an amazing turn out of surfers, local residents, community activists, and straight up happy hour enthusiasts.  Representatives from the major stakeholder organizations presented their views on the situation and recommended courses of action.  After these presentations there was a good 60 minutes of questions, expressions of frustration, and expressions of frustration thinly veiled as questions from the assembled crowd.  Here’s a quick list of the primary speakers/presenters in the rough order in which they spoke:

There was a decidedly pro-managed retreat, anti-hard structure tone to the meeting, but it’s a tough and complicated problem.  As best as I can understand, there are two issues.  An immediate short term emergency, and a longer term problem of a major sewage pipe being too close to a lot of wave energy.

Since 2007 we’ve lost up to 70 feet of bluff in certain spots, and this could accelerate with turbulent El Nino conditions.  No one is particularly concerned about the Great Highway in the short term, but there is a risk that a major 14 foot diameter pipe that transports poop-laden raw sewage from holding tanks to the treatment facility could be damaged.  This pipe/tunnel runs parallel to the beach and is supported by the surrounding sand.  If that sand fails to support it, and the pipe breaches, we’ll get raw sewage on OB… muy malo.

The recommendation from the DPW is that we need to take immediate action by placing big rocks on the base of the bluff to protect the pipe until we can figure out the best long term strategy.  Everyone else pretty much hates this idea since it will accelerate erosion in surrounding areas, and will be detrimental to wave quality for a bunch of reasons.  The only viable long term strategy, at least for anyone who cares about having a beach, is a major sand replenishment effort (expensive, complicated, involves Federal Funding) accompanied by eventual movement of the pipe and treatment facility back away from the beach (not even exlored yet, and also insanely expensive.)

Even the DPW agrees that armoring the bluff is a bad long term solution, and say they would want to remove the rocks when the emergency subsides, but they’re more concerned by El Nino conditions getting closer to that pipe above all else.  Too bad the “semi-permanent” solution would cost around $2 million.

There’s some debate over how urgent this “state of emergency” is, and many of the anti-armoring folks want to push back any decision on dropping rocks on this area back at least a week.  It seems to me like this makes sense since the pipe isn’t going to breach in the next week, and there are some other ideas on the table that need to be considered.

If you agree (or whatever your opinion is) there is a public meeting to discuss the emergency action tomorrow, January 26 at 2pm at City Hall.  This is where they might decide to take immediate action to armor the bluff.  If you’re a surfer, you don’t want this to happen right away.  So, if you can make it, you should go!

If you can’t make that meeting, you can add your thoughts in the comments below, or send an email to ASAP.

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