Commission nixes stopgap shore plan for San Francisco's Great Highway 

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The California Coastal Commission late Wednesday scuttled San Francisco’s stopgap plan to keep Great Highway from crumbling into the ocean.

A series of storms in January and February hammered the rock wall on the southern end of Ocean Beach, threatening not only the road south of Sloat Boulevard but also a sewage tunnel that lies under the highway.

The Department of Public Works placed large boulders near the road to act as armor, and now the department wants to place even more boulders along the way to shore up the bluff. It is the only affordable way to protect the beach from a potential disastrous sewage spill, city officials contended.

But critics claimed that building a long rock wall along the most-eroded section of the bluff is environmentally insensitive and will cause more problems than it solves.

The Surfrider Foundation was one of those critics and had been lobbying to prevent the rock wall. Bill McLaughlin for the Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco Chapter, lauded the commission’s unanimous decision.

“In commentary leading up to this historic vote, commissioners said that it was time to send a message to the City and County of San Francisco that the era of temporary rock revetments for Sloat is over,” McLaughlin said in a statement.

The City is looking for funding for a long-term fix, Department of Public Works spokeswoman Gloria Chan wrote in an email.

“We will continue to work closely with the Coastal Commission and stakeholders to protect our critical infrastructure and develop a sustainable long-term solution,” she said.

In 2003, the Ocean Beach Task Force said that The City should consider several proposed long-term solutions, including a strategic retreat from the coastline, moving the sewage tunnel and road further away from the bluffs.

The City has been looking into building a large sand dune in front of the eroding bluffs on top of the rock revetment.

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