Thank you for continuing the fruitful discussion in these pages of the ongoing Beach Boulevard Infrastructure Resiliency Project planning. It is informative to consult the City’s “scope and services” agreement with the consultants GHD. (May 26, 2020, City Council meeting.) In addition to specifying a seawall, the agreement states that GHD “… will also identify other potential flood protection alternatives, such as secondary walls landward of primary seawall, landscaping, raising Beach Boulevard and installing drainage, close beach boulevard to non-resident traffic or all vehicles, relocate utilities landward, and other potential improvements.” (The emphasis is mine.)
With this in mind, consider:
- The options in Workshop No. 3 did not mention realistic alternatives for the North zone other than hard armor.
- Those alternatives were offered in broad generalities, what I call boilerplate.
- Two GHD engineers referred to the essential need to consider advanced “technical performance criteria” before deciding, but these were not presented (e.g. seawall: how high, what is its design lifetime, the depth of footing the cost?).
- The infrastructure system involves a combination of inextricably coupled assets (seawall, roadway, sewer, power, water), linked by both proximity and risk, with similar urgency.
- We agree on the risks of sea level rise. GHD assessed these risks if we do nothing: “the complete loss of Beach Boulevard by 2030, the loss of approximately 50 buildings by 2050 …”
- The risk is real, and likely underestimated.
- We need to plan appropriately. We should not rule out a seawall.
- Before the final decision, we should honestly compare a broader scope of alternatives in more substantive detail than are now being considered.
- This planning phase needs to consider all coupled alternatives together, even if the implementation is in stages.
If planning were enhanced this way, it is likely that approval and pursuit of funding would be expedited.