Regarding the ongoing study of the Beach Boulevard seawall project, Jim Steele’s letter in the April 28 Tribune made some good points about how the 1929 O’Shaughnessy seawall on Ocean Beach in San Francisco has stood the test of time, turning back the waves over the course of 80 years. There was a hint of a suggestion that if any proposed seawall for Beach Boulevard were to incorporate some of those design features, it might share in similar success.
A number of issues remain to be properly vetted. When the O’Shaughnessy seawall was built, the cost was shared by the citizens of San Francisco, a population much larger than that of Pacifica. It protects virtually all of the city’s ocean beach, where the Beach Boulevard wall protects only a fraction of Pacifica’s. Environmental reports and the Coastal Commission did not exist.
Looking a little deeper into the construction details shared by Steele, take note of the design parameter that put the top of the successful O’Shaughnessy wall at 25 feet above the beach. Let’s put up some story poles along Beach Boulevard and see how well that flies. The O’Shaughnessy wall protected all of San Francisco’s ocean front. A Beach Boulevard seawall will protect only that neighborhood, the precious “heart of Pacifica.”
What about the rest of our town? What about the two feet in 50 years projected sea level rise cited in a front-page article in the same Tribune?
Whatever design decisions are ultimately chosen, the planning for it needs to look further into the future than
a mere 50 years. By all means, those of us who call Pacifica home today should involve themselves in the public-forum discussions now going on. We may come to regret any short-sightedness as we look for long-term solutions.