The city’s recent seawall meeting was disappointing. At December’s meeting, residents asked to see options for natural solutions that can adapt with increasing sea level rise. The 2014 General Plan says, “Wherever feasible, shoreline protection shall take the form of nonstructural measures, such as setback, redesign, relocation or beach replenishment.”
The only viable natural option presented was putting native plants next to the wall.
The city’s justification for a new wall is to protect infrastructure. Questions posed weeks ago about the value and condition of infrastructure in the area remained unanswered.
What are we protecting? How much is it worth? Should it be moved anyway for safety reasons? For those of us on the north side of town, all our sewers flow through this area. What is the risk to homes as well as to the ocean if sewers fail?
There was no discussion of relative costs associated with any options and there is no certainty of funding. The Army Corps of Engineers already analyzed one project for a new wall back in 2017. The study said that cost/benefit analysis rendered the project ineligible for their program. It was not even close.
What is our backup plan if we can’t get funding? Even with funding, it will take years to get approvals and build the wall. What temporary measures should we be exploring to protect public safety?
There was one very enlightening comment by the senior project engineer, Gillian Millar, who obviously has a healthy respect for the ocean. In essence, she said a new wall will not stop the sea, it will only buy us time — how much time was not discussed.
We need to start talking about concerted plans for sea level rise and adaptation and the hard truth that some structures will be lost. Many beachfront homes in Sharp Park, Linda Mar, Pedro Point and Manor have already been lost. Of course, no one enjoys these discussions, but it is our reality and must be addressed. We must start talking about real resiliency, the ability to adapt to rising sea levels, and threats from climate change for the next 100 years including increased risks of fire, flooding and landslides that affect the entire city.
We need visionary leadership that does not just put the problem off by hiding behind a wall. Our children and grandchildren are watching. What future Pacifica will we leave them?
Christine Boles is a resident of Pacifica.