To recap Jim Kremer’s statement on the future of Beach Boulevard (Tribune, Feb. 3), “All physical structures fail.” In the destructive environment of ocean waves and sea level rise, they fail more quickly. After 40 feet of Esplanade blufftop collapsed in the big storm of 2008, I watched the seawall there under construction in 2012. At the time, I was impressed with the apparent forethought in the engineering design to turn back the waves.

Four years later, I was equally impressed by the utter failure of that same seawall when, during another winter storm, a gigantic sinkhole developed behind it, the apparent result of the first design’s failure to account for less obvious potential impacts.

I’ve been watching the ongoing repair of that problem with a deeper, more heavily engineered, bigger Band-Aid — a temporary fix at best, as anyone who has lived here long enough will readily understand. The fixes we hope will hold back the sea — the riprap, the seawalls, the blufftop armoring — are all temporary. Those who don’t fully grasp the concept of managed retreat will find that Mother Nature has managed it for them.

Now we are considering what to do about the recent storm damage at the Beach Boulevard seawall. The time to think about rerouting the Beach Boulevard sewer inland is now. We can prepare for the inevitable, or we can keep on engineering our way from one crisis to the next. The choice, of course, is ours.

David Hirzel


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(1) comment

Christine Boles

Thank you David. I wasn't aware of the history behind that sea wall on the north end of town. I don't understand why there is not accountability for poor engineering. The armoring in Sharp Park was supposedly designed to last 75 years. We're just over half that time, have already spent over 2 million doing repairs, and now need to replace it? Again where is the accountability? It's no wonder Pacifica has no money to repave roads or replace aging infrastructure.

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