Ocean Beach Master Plan drafts big changes for Ocean Beach
Planners have revealed a sweeping set of recommendations for guiding San Francisco’s Ocean Beach over the next several decades. The plan is predictably complex, especially with the necessity to protect important city infrastructure, but the changes deliberately aim to preserve the natural habitat, surfing, and the sweeping views that many residents enjoy.
Ocean Beach faces challenges including destructive coastal erosion, rising sea levels and a myriad of competing demands as the biggest beach in a densely developed city. In response to these challenges, the draft recommendations of the Ocean Beach Master Plan call for changes such as rerouting part of the Great Highway, reducing the number of lanes on most of that road, and installing cobblestone berms and other features to blunt the erosive impact of waves on the shore.
When it is completed early next year, the Ocean Beach Master Plan will provide a set of principles and concrete suggestions that city, state and federal agencies can use to guide the management of the beach over the next several decades.
The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association think tank is facilitating the development of the master plan, in consultation with a group of government and community representatives as well as experts in fields such as coastal engineering. On Saturday, SPUR held the third in a series of public meetings about the Ocean Beach Master Plan and presented its draft recommendations there.
“To date, much of the project has been about research into the very complex nature of the issues and challenges at Ocean Beach,” said Ben Grant, SPUR’s project manager for the Ocean Beach Master Plan. “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the public at two previous workshops.”
“What you’ll see today is not set in stone,” Grant told the audience at Saturday’s meeting, saying that he is looking for feedback from the public about whether the draft recommendations are the right ones.
The Ocean Beach Bulletin plans to detail some of the master plan’s major recommendations in coming weeks.
While the plan already represents one of the most extensive analytical efforts directed at Ocean Beach, even when it is completed it won’t be a binding regulatory document. But planners, agencies and individuals that have been involved in its creation say they want it to be a practical guidebook for managing the beach, not just a white paper that is quickly forgotten.
OBMP leaders had first thought to create a plan for the next 50 years, but absorbed a suggestion from the San Francisco chapter of the Surfrider Foundation to make concrete plans for the period up to 2030, then assess the success of their efforts and make adjustments for the following 20 years. Grant said that while the Ocean Beach Master Plan’s ideas might be relevant until about 2050, it is likely that after that point, rising seas and other factors will make it difficult to maintain the beach and nearby infrastructure as we know them today.
Six big suggestions
The preliminary recommendations for the Ocean Beach Master Plan were grouped broadly into six “key moves.”
Planners think about Ocean Beach in three distinct segments, or “reaches,” with different uses and challenges: the heavily eroded South Reach south of Sloat Boulevard, the Middle Reach from Sloat to Lincoln Way, and the busy North Reach from Lincoln Way north. The six “key moves” of the draft recommendations are divided evenly among the three reaches:
- Key Move 1: Reroute Great Highway behind the zoo via Sloat and Skyline
- Key Move 2: Introduce a multipurpose coastal protection/restoration/access system
- Key Move 3: Reduce width of Great Highway to provide amenities / managed retreat
- Key Move 4: Middle Reach native dune restoration
- Key Move 5: Better connection between Golden Gate Park and beach
- Key Move 6: Bicycle and pedestrian improvements north of Balboa
Next steps for Ocean Beach Master Plan
A final version of the master plan should be completed in about February 2012, after taking into account feedback about initial recommendations. In the meantime, a full Ocean Beach Master Plan draft should be ready in December and will be presented to the public early next year.
Anyone who wants to make comments or give an opinion about the master plan’s draft recommendations can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ocean Beach Master Plan documents
SPUR’s slide presentation from the Oct. 29 Ocean Beach Master Plan meeting is embedded below. To watch videos of the presentation, visit the Ocean Beach Bulletin’s YouTube channel.
Editor’s Note: Tom Prete worked at SPUR from April 2006 to October 2007, managing the think tank’s publications. He did copy-editing work for SPUR on a freelance basis from October 2007 to June 2011. He was never involved in SPUR policy matters.
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