July 10, 2012 -- After a 2-year process of community workshops and public input, on June 26, 2012 the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) released its final Ocean Beach Master Plan for the western coastline of San Francisco.
Save The Waves and the San Francisco Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation participated closely in this planning process to ensure the long-term environmental health and public accessibility of Ocean Beach. The effort to create the Ocean Beach Master Plan brought together a wide range of stakeholders and resulted in great collaboration amongst agencies, nonprofits and community groups.
Save The Waves is thrilled to note that listed first in the Master Plan’s “Six Key Moves” is a proposal to reroute the Great Highway behind the zoo via Sloat and Skyline Boulevards. This includes the removal of the eroding highway infrastructure south of Sloat that has troubled surfers and beach users for years. Save The Waves, SF Surfrider and local advocates have long considered the highway area south of Sloat to be a major eyesore and a source of coastal pollution.
Other major features of the final Master Plan include reducing the width of the Great Highway to facilitate a strategy of managed retreat from the eroding shoreline; restoration of sand dunes; and improvement of bicycle and pedestrian access.
Although Save The Waves Coalition welcomes these new recommendations for Ocean Beach, we are critical of certain aspects of the proposal including the lack of planning to relocate or reconfigure the Lake Merced Tunnel. While the plan states that relocating the Lake Merced Tunnel would be costly, no formal studies on the form and costs of relocation have been conducted. Further, a proposed cobblestone berm to provide interim protection for the Lake Merced Tunnel from erosion and wave activity until a long-term strategy is identified, would also be costly, at nearly $63 million. This price tag would not include subsequent actions to protect or relocate the tunnel. Permanent relocation of this infrastructure remains the most cost-effective strategy and the best strategy for the protection of our irreplaceable coastal resources.
“Overall, the plan’s recommendations will help us to protect and improve what we love most about Ocean Beach: the surf, the beach, and wildlife,” says Katie Westfall, Conservation Director of Save The Waves Coalition. “The future remains uncertain though for the area south of Sloat without a relocation strategy for the Lake Merced Tunnel.”
Local residents and coastal advocates are encouraged to continue their community involvement in this issue in order to guarantee making a reality out of the Ocean Beach Master Plan.
You can read & download the complete Ocean Beach Master Plan here.