Photo: Surfing at Kelp Cove


Posted by on Mon, October 2, 2006

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Clay Gantz
"I thought you might get a kick out of these pictures of the surf today at Kelp Cove.  I can't recall seeing this good or this pretty," writes Clay Gantz. Kelp Cove is at the north entrance to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, where San Vicente Creek empties into the Pacific.

The guy who lives in the red house is probably not too happy about the rip-rap his southern neighbor laid down. The “end effects” of the rip rap are seriously eroding the northern parcel. Nature will claim its due, eventually. The only question is who pays.

Comment 2
Tue, October 3, 2006 12:51pm
Jessb
All my comments

Am I missing something? I don’t see a red house or rip rap in the picture??? Were there more pictures that my computer didn’t get?

Click on the link in the photo caption to see the damage from the riprip.  For another view, take a look at this Google satellite map:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Moss+Beach,+CA+94038&ie=UTF8&z=19&ll=37.524688,-122.517613&spn=0.001021,0.002704&t=k&om=1

Not only is the cliff to the north of the riprap eroded, but the beach in front of the riprap has become noticeably concave as a result of wave action.

Comment 4
Tue, October 3, 2006 4:31pm
Carl May
All my comments

Question: What notable lives in the house with the rip-rap?

The full arc of this cove has long been a location for damaging effects of several kinds of bluff armoring associated with individual properties. Another question: Why should everyone have their natural environment degraded by a few who were crazy enough to build or buy developed properties on soft, retreating ocean bluffs? This questin will be repeated more frequently as sea level rises and we get more intense storms.

Carl May

Comment 5
Tue, October 3, 2006 5:27pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

I believe that house with the rip-rap used to be owned by John Miller (former Giants announcer). Don’t know who owns it now. I used to live on California Ave for several years and know that beach very well.
Ray

The rip rap on the house in question was built with permits in the 1980’s by a long-time coastal resident.  The little red house has already been moved from its original location because the County wouldn’t let the owner protect his property by putting in rip rap like so many other people have in that area.

I’m sure all the protesters on the coast will be happy to see one day a historic home sitting on the beach poisioning the tide pools. 

The rip rap is to protect both the beach and the land.  Without it all of Nevada Street could be on the beach.

Steven Hyman

Comment 7
Thu, October 5, 2006 11:16am
Carl May
All my comments

The long history of rip-rap on the California coast is that it damages both bluffs and beach. Where rip-rap and other shoreline armoring go in, beach is lost—sometimes entirely. Where rip-rap and other armoring go in to “protect” a particular property, property to either side usually experiences faster bluff erosion. This is certainly the case with the bluff above bedrock in every armoring location on the midcoast. I leave doubters to consult ther geology texts for the basic natural processes involved with beach sand and bluff erosion.

So, neither beach nor land is “protected” by rip-rap. Only development where development was unwise in the first place gets a short-term reprieve at the expense of beach and neighboring land. People unable to live with the consequences of their ignorance extend problems by trying to preserve their artificial mistakes. Something stupid permitted by government during ignorant flailing at a problem is still stupid.

Basic geology has some simple lessons on where to develop, such as don’t build in a flood plain if you don’t want to get flooded. Another is don’t build on a retreating coastal bluff if you don’t want to lose your building to natural coastal erosion. Making a bad situation worse with bluff armoring is not a way to live comfortably or economically with natural forces that always bat last.

Carl May

Comment 8
Thu, October 5, 2006 1:15pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Well, the reality of this area is that there used to be a road that ran on this side of those 2 houses. When that road got washed out it should have been a sign to all of the homeowners that their property is also in danger. Though it might be seen from the picture that the red house’s land is falling even faster into the sea, what is unknown is if the rip-rap were removed, would the equivalent set of land be removed from the white house. My opinion is that if you own property you have the right to protect it (and the laws support this), and the reality is that any damage to the beach would have already been done since it is all washing away. Sort of the price you pay to be “that close” to the ocean.
Ray

Ray wrote:
“My opinion is that if you own property you have the right to protect it.”

Well then, what about the property-owners of the beach? That would be the citizens of the state of California. The loss forever of a stretch of beach that could otherwise provide recreational opportunities for all is now sacrificed to protect the narrow interests of a single homeowner. Pretty unfair trade-off from a commmunity and social perspective if you ask me. But then, selfish pursuits are nothing new on the Coastside.

I can see why Mr. Hyman, a realtor, would be in favor of coastal armoring. There is money to be made by selling houses on the blufftops, but no sales commissions are lost when it is only the beach that dissappears. 

Carl May has it exactly right above. Below is a link to a NOAA report that points out the harmful and unintended consequences of coastal armoring:
 
http://www.sanctuaries.noaa.gov/special/con_coast/stamski.pdf#search=“rip%20rap%20coastal%20armoring”

There is an amazing video called “Coastal Clash” that I recommend everyone living on the Coastside take the time to watch.  At one time, I too, would have thought like Mr. Hyman that Rip-Rap makes sense and would be a protection of the bluffs.  How wrong I was, and what a difference a little education can make.  There is an excellent online tutorial about armoring the beach at:  http://www.kqed.org/w/coastalclash/armoring.html  The use of rip rap is not only futile, but in fact causes additional damage.  This documentary has won many awards and is well worth the time.  I’d challenge Mr. Hyman to watch the DVD (I’m happy to loan it to you) and then let us know what he thinks.

Cheri,

I’d be delighted to see that video and tell you what I think.

I’m very much in favor of using rip rap or other type of retaining walls to protect personal property and for erosion control.  One of the benefits of the rip rap is that it keeps falling debris or land from going on other property.  Here it prevents land from falling on the beach which would otherwise block access to the public.

I’m very familar with the homes on Nevada and the history of the rip rap with the County.  I think what the County is trying to do is wrong here. In the long run the lack of erosion control will damage the marine reserve when the beach gets blocked and polluted from all the debris above.

There’s no question that rip rap can create a problem or push the water in a different direction. Just look at the break wall by the harbor which then required rip rap by surfer’s beach to protect HWY 1.

The pubic benefits by having a safe productive harbor and a continous HWY 1.  The public also benefits from having beautiful beaches that are accessable and safe from landslides.

Steven Hyman

Kevin,
Are you saying the rip-rap is the cause of the loss of the beach? I certainly don’t believe that is the case. I believe the ocean is washing away the beach, and the rip-rap is merely trying to protect the bluff.
I used to go to that beach almost every day for about 7 years. There were winters where the beach was entirely gone: nothing but rocks. And then slowly the beach would come back. It was a cycle that I got used to. The ocean will defintely win this battle, just as it took the road that used to exist on the bluff. with or without a rip-rap.

Regarding the coastal-clash documentary.. That is a pretty good piece. We can learn alot from the problems in San Diego they had discussed. Also, in the last clips you will see some black and white footage of a lady sitting on the sand in the water. That is my mother-in-law. She was so excited when she saw herself on TV, in her late twenties I think.
Ray

I’m not going spend my time tracking down references for the following, but it’s solidly documented science that:
1. riprap always causes loss of the beach
2. riprap always increases the erosion rate at one end at least, sometimes (often?) both ends
3. riprap (almost?) always fails eventually

A now-retired geologist for USGS in Menlo Park spent decades documenting erosion of the San Mateo County coast.  The three numbered statements above are approximately his statements.

In geologic time, the San Mateo coast was literally “born yesterday”.  It’s very soft and erodes very fast.  The fact that there are some people with enough money, stupidity, greed, selfishness (choose up to 4) to build too close to the ocean doesn’t mean that it’s ok to allow them to steal the beach from millions of people in order to temporarily protect a structure which never should have been built in the first place.

I don’t remember the numbers but it’s been computed that at the current rate of coast armoring in California (~10% today), in something like 100 years all 1100 miles of California’s coast would be armored and there will be no beaches.

It sounds really harsh and maybe it is, but if your house falls into the ocean or slides down a hillside, that’s just nature’s way of telling you that it didn’t belong there in the first place.

When I was looking to buy a house in El Granada, there was one that I really liked but it was stapled to the side of the road on basically a cliff.  I want solid dirt under my house.  For some silly reason, I think it’s more important to have my house stay put than it is to (temporarily) have a nice view.  And I do appreciate nice views and wish I had one.  But if you GAVE ME a house on cliff, no matter how great the view is, I’d sell the property and buy in a safer location.

Comment 14
Tue, October 10, 2006 5:34pm
Carl May
All my comments

The lack of an awareness of even basic geology for our area always amazes me. The lack of awareness of the negative effects of some kinds of development and other artificial activity in light of well-known geological factors compounds my amazement.

Sandy beaches are dynamic areas, in constant change due to a variety of interacting physical conditions and forces. It does not take years of technical education to get the basics distilled for us by coastal geologists. What are the kinds of beaches? On what kinds of shorelines are beaches found? What is sand? Where does the sand on beaches come from? How does the sand on beaches change with the interacting forces of seasons, storms, tides, waves, winds, currents, runoff from the land, etc.? How do beaches change with artificial impacts from impoundments on streams and rivers, hardscaping of coastal watersheds, bluff armoring, breakwaters and beach structures like groins, introduced vegetation, trampling and vehicles on beaches, blufftop development, etc.? What kinds of natural organisms live in and on beaches? These matters are all well understood in principle and are fortified with extensive examples.

The kinds of negative impacts caused by bluff armoring such as rip-rap and sea walls are not controversial. The impacts have been observed in dozens, even hundreds of varying situations on the California coast and in thousands of locations elsewhere. Anyone who walks beaches on the West coast of North America soon builds empirical knowledge of what geologists have studied and classified. The exact impacts of bluff armoring on any given beach will depend on the morphology of the coastline and the multiple forces in play at that location, but they are never positive in terms of retaining natural beach conditions, including the beach’s changing complement of sand. Changes to adjacent unarmored bluff due to bluff armoring are also well-documented and never positive in terms of retaining the natural rate of bluff erosion.

There is no mystery about the mistakes made by development and armoring on the soft bluffs of the midcoast. The negative impacts are clear. To continue such damaging behavior is irresponsible to the public that owns the shoreline up to the mean high tide line, to shoreline ecosystems, to taxpayers who are sometimes called on to bail out the mistakes, and to naive buyers of beautiful blufftop property.

Leonard, if you want an oceanside view house, only buy on hard, solid (not fractured by seismic activity) rock extending all the way into the ocean. There are good reasons why rocky points stick out farther into the ocean than low shorelines with dunes or soft bluffs. You won’t have a beach below your house unless it is a very small and probably inaccessible pocket beach, but that’s what one gives up for a relatively stable place adjacent to the ocean.

Carl May

Comment 15
Tue, October 10, 2006 8:23pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

What amazes me is how many “experts” we have on the coast. It seems so easy today to read a book and therefore be considered an expert on a subject.
Ray

Comment 16
Tue, October 10, 2006 8:27pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Let me add from about 10 years of experience of visiting this beach I can totally see the beach washing away, regardless of the rip-rap. And, what backs my findings are the fact that the road that used to exist there has been washed away, before any such rip-rap had been installed.

And, I am not saying that rip-rap does not harm the beach. I am just saying that it is a fact that the current entire beach is eroding away due to the ocean.
Ray

Comment 17
Tue, October 10, 2006 11:33pm
Carl May
All my comments

Please, folks, just learn the geologic basics of sandy beaches. There’s a world of easy understanding out there to be tapped into and end your flailing at local subject matter. It’s only partly book an school learning. What drives it home is what you can see, verify, and figure out for yourself once you have an idea what is going on with physical conditions and forces.

My amazement concerns how little long-time local residents bother to learn about the area in which they live, how little they observe, how seldom they actually get out into their surroundings with an informed, analytical eye. It shows up constantly in failures of half-cocked local endeavors, beach and bluff damage from ill-advised artificial bluff armoring being just one example. (This is not to say much local damage to the environment and our quality of life is not also done quite consciously and knowingly for monetary gain.)

Carl May

Ray,

You are amazed at the number of “experts” that are created by just reading a book. Your implication is obvious, people are stretching to make/support a point and don’t really know that much. Yet between 10/5 7:47pm and 10/10 8:27pm you gained 3 years of experience with the beach (from” I used to go to that beach almost every day for about 7 years” to “from about 10 years of experience of visiting this beach”).  I don’t like being the fact police, but when massive stretching is done, by either side, I just can’t seem to leave that sit unchallenged.

We humans have this great desire to try to force Nature to change to accommodate our desires. Regardless if for selfish or public benefits. Many fact stretching is done to justify that. But we can’t seem to learn, Nature plays by her rules not ours.

Comment 19
Wed, October 11, 2006 11:29am
Ray Olson
All my comments

I could not agree more to the above statement: “My amazement concerns how little long-time local residents bother to learn about the area in which they live, how little they observe, how seldom they actually get out into their surroundings with an informed, analytical eye.”
Anyone visiting the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve will easily observe that the entire bluff-side is eroding, and has been eroding, regardless of any sort of rip-rap.
Ray

While I will agree that riprap does hurt the beach no matter where it is placed sometimes it is a necessary evil, I am sure it is not a needed item at this location. Just look at the current harbor protection structures or the large number of jetties on the east coat. I am neither for or against this person having riprap if it was done legally they had every right to do it, and don’t deserve to be bashed. The people who let them put it there are the ones who need the education.
  The most amusing part of this article is how people in general are mad at a entity for trying to protect what they have. People are bad mouthing this property owner for having riprap on their property; but many of the people fighting this will happily fight tooth and nail to keep people from building something that may change or block a view they have of the beach or bluffs. Even when the structure is being built hundreds of feet or even miles from the property of the person complaining. This whole situation harkens back to the NIMBY debate posted in another article.

Comment 21
Thu, October 12, 2006 11:10am
Bob Ptacek
All my comments

Ray,
It’s always important for people to be as educated as possible on facts before they speak and not to invent experience in order to justify an opinion. You justified your statements on your experience with observations of the beach. Yet in 5 days you gained 3 years of experience.  You correctly point out logic/fact faults in other postings. I just don’t believe you are entitled to an exemption to your own rule.

Comment 22
Thu, October 12, 2006 5:02pm
Carl May
All my comments

Dear folks,

Some of you are still avoiding a basic self-education on beaches, bluffs, and sand. What is going on at the beach in question (which, as a biologist by education, I have been visiting since I moved here in 1974 as part of perambulations in the marine reserve) is not what would be going on without the armoring of the bluffs and other artificial influences (some of which I alluded to in the questions I previously posted as ones that people could have in mind as they pursued the understanding that is to be had easily by those who desire to get beyond shooting from the hip or making specious prouncements from an uninformed standpoint). How’s that for a sentence?

Carl May

Comment 23
Sat, October 14, 2006 9:29pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Bob,
First, my agrument has been based on facts that happened on that bluff some 50 years ago, in addition to what you will find south of the beach below the red house. Ask folks that used to live in that area when that street on the bluff used to exist (called The Strand). The man that owns the red house also owns a white house on the corner of Nevada and Beach St, and he can probably tell you. I am not arguing whether or not rip-rap harms the beach. I’m arguing that the main reason for this beach eroding is the ocean, and not the rip-rap. You only have to go south of this beach to see all of the bluffs eroding (at least those that do not have rip-rap).
Ray

Comment 24
Sat, October 14, 2006 9:57pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

If you must know I lived on west-side california ave for over 7 years and would walk to this beach almost every night to de-stress from work. Since then I’ve visited the beach, though not on a daily basis.
Ray

Comment 25
Mon, October 16, 2006 10:00am
Bob Ptacek
All my comments

Ray,

if you would listened with the same focus as you speak you would have been able to see that my replies were to address your bvious ”stretching” of your experience. And since you insist that others stay firmly on the facts (as you are doing on another topic where you are obviously accusing Ken of “stretching” 2 points together that in your opinion have no relationship). I find it very interesting that you demand something from someone that you apparently are unwilling to adhere to yourself.

You embellish your facts but call others on the carpet when they do it. And when your carpet number is up, you do everything but address it.

Sorry Ray, but as long as you insist on serving up logical softballs, I’m going to keep hitting your pitches regardless of the topic.

Comment 26
Mon, October 16, 2006 12:12pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Bob,
Can you please explain to me how I am “stretching” my experience? Also, before you decide to be “fact police” maybe you can just ask for clarification? And, please tell me what logical softball you are referring to?
Ray

Happy to oblige. Just above my statement in the 10/11 posting that you referenced, are the details.

On 10/5 at 7:47pm you posted   “ I used to go to that beach almost every day for about 7 years……”

On 10/10 at 8:27pm you posted “from about 10 years of experience of visiting this beach….”

That is the clearest way I can think of explaining why I think you are “stretching”.

Let me try a different approach, maybe you can tell me how adding 3 years to 7 is not “stretching”. If 7 and 10 are close enough not to be a big difference, then you really can’t point out embellishments in other postings.

And finally, the intention of my 10/11 posting was exactly what you want “ask for clarification?” But since then you have replied 4 times, but never clarified.

Comment 28
Mon, October 16, 2006 6:28pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Bob,
Please read my post at 9:57pm on 10/14 for my clarification. Instead of assuming that someone is stretching the truth, you can simply ask for clarification. Let me repeat for you just so it is totally clear:
I lived on west side California Ave for over 7 years and used to visit this beach almost every day to de-stress from work. Since then (for a little over 3 years) I have visited this beach, just not every day. Hope this helps.
It certainly shouldn’t dilude the facts about the entire bluff side of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. One only has to visit this beach to see the impact the ocean is having. Especially if one visits the beach in Jan-Feb after storms have passed. Take a look a little further south (say around the distillery) and you will see more impact.
Ray

Ok, I think we can all agree that the ocean is having an impact on the bluffs.  How does that justify allowing armoring, which makes things worse for everyone except one individual property owner?  This was a problem long before any current property owners were here.  (Otherwise known as a pre-existing condition.)  What gives them the right to be stupid and/or selfish and/or arrogant and/or greedy and protect their one property to the detriment of the general public and the environment?

Comment 30
Mon, October 16, 2006 9:57pm
Carl May
All my comments

Just checking in. Still no awareness of the dynamic geologic basics of the origins of beach sand and the relationship of that sand to all the conditions and forces influencing the beach to make it what it is.

Carl May

There’s only a few homes in the Marine Reserve that don’t have some sort of protection.  I take the position that the County is damaging the public by not protecting the remainder of the bluff which involves both individual homes and a County street.

If everybody had protection by rip rap or whatever, then who would be harmed?  To the contrary,  the present situation puts the public and enviroment at risk.

Its inappropriate to call people stupid or selfish for protecting their property.  You could also make the same comment about the people who protest so loudly but don’t live anywhere near the beach.

Steven Hyman

Comment 32
Tue, October 17, 2006 1:58pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Not sure if the intent of this post has to do with whether rip rap should be allowed in general or how this one rip rap is affecting the red house next door. What I do know is that the property of that red-house will be eroding away no matter if that rip rap exists or not. History of this area has shown this to be true (the road called the Strand is pretty much washed away as a result, before any rip rap was installed). Someone had argued that the rip rap caused this, but I see no evidence of this, only evidence that the ocean has been eroding this bluff for many years. What I do see is that the rip rap is doing what the owner wants it to do: To prevent his property from washing away as well.

As to whether this is right or wrong?? I honestly don’t know. I know a property owner is allowed to protect his property from being destroyed. I’m not sure how that particular rip rap has affected me (Fitzgerald Marine Reserve being a public place) in a negative way? But, I can see how other rip raps have negatively affected a public beach. I think ideally any future owner of a beach front property should be told what he can or cannot do to protect the property (and yet not negatively impact the public) before buying a piece of property, and then they can decide if it is really worth being that close to the beach. I’m not sure how to deal with existing owners of beach front property though.
Ray

Ray,
thank you for the explanation of your two types experience with the beach. (7 years of daily experience and 3 years of occasional experience). In your previous posts when making statements about the beach you had not distinguished between the two, just referencing experience and hence my confusion between 7 and 10 years.

Next time I will be more than happy to ask for clarification in private email to avoid a posting dance.

Along the line of Carl’s comment above about the lack of awareness of the basics of beach dynamics, the following video is available for loan from the California Coastal Commission:

“The Beach: A River of Sand - 20 min. running time, for grades 6-12. Describes how beaches are formed and change and how sand moves along the coast. Request Item - VID/BRS”

http://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/directory/educate.html

“The Beach: A River of Sand” is an excellent summary of beach dynamics and applies to the whole of California beaches…

thanks for the ref…Kevin

Also Steven Hyman makes some excellent points regarding rip-rap, “If everyone had rip rap or whatever, then who would be harmed?” 

The current policy of CCC to allow one person to have rip rap and then Deny the next lot north, and then Allow the next lot north to have rip rap is, in my opinion, probably the worst imaginable policy…and that appears to be the case on nevada street…

Following is hearsay…I have heard that the lot with the red house has been denied rip rap 3 times in past years while adjacent neighbors were granted rip rap..one in 1982 and the other in 1998?  but Mr Hyman and others may have exact numbers.

terry gossett

Comment 36
Wed, October 18, 2006 10:06am
Barry Parr
All my comments

Terry:  Riprap destroys beaches as well as bluffs. Take a look at the beach in the Google satellite photo referenced above. You can see that the beach is being washed away by wave action directly in front of the riprap.  Part of that beach is public property.  Eventually there will be no beach at all. Should the property owner have to compensate the state for taking a beach?

If the state won’t allow riprap on the neighbors’ property, it seems to me that they have a good civil case against their neighbor for putting theirs up. Can you destroy my land to save yours?  Seems to me that neighbors should share the negative consequences of building on fragile bluffs, rather than directing them at one another.

So, the riprap, while legally permitted, seems to be a civil matter between its owner and the property owners it affects (the state of California and their unfortunate neighbor).

One of the problems on Nevada Street is that some owners don’t have or don’t want any protection for their property.

In this case,  there’s actually a seperate piece of property in between the “moved” red house and the home with the rip rap.  What’s happenning is that this land is being eroded which in turn is undermining the home with the rip rap.

I know the owner of the red house has spent years trying to fix the problem with not much to show other than big legal and engineering bills.

Part of the problem here is also the public street (Ellendale) which will eventually fall onto the beach.  Then you’ll have asphalt, guard rails and who knows what other toxens poisioning the tidepools.

I don’t see how the public benefits by having a blocked beach with debris. Its not like it would enhance the beauty of the beach either.

Steven Hyman

Comment 38
Wed, October 18, 2006 3:28pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Sorry Barry but the rip rap is not causing the erosion but the ocean waves are causing the erosion, just as it had done in the past when there was no rip rap. look South of the distillery (Seal Cove area) at how quickly the bluff side is eroding. The road that runs parallel to the beach (Ocean Blvd) will soon fall into the ocean, and there is no rip rap. There might be other reasons for the accelerating erosion.

It’s hard to look at the following satellite photo and not believe that the riprap is not causing the destruction of the beach by redirecting the wave energy and preventing the natural erosion of the bluff.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Moss+Beach,+CA+94038&ie=UTF8&z=19&ll=37.52472,-122.517149&spn=0.001021,0.002704&t=h&om=1

Comment 40
Wed, October 18, 2006 5:23pm
Carl May
All my comments

Checking in again. I see all are still avoiding learning the basic interacting conditions and forces involved in sandy beach dynamics.

Of course it’s stupid to build on a retreating bluff, and anyone who would sell a geologically ignorant person such a piece of property with any expectation of permanence is irresponsible.

Of course bluff armoring redirects erosive forces and deprives the beach of one of its sources of sand.

Of course waves that reach bluffs erode them. But do you know that a big factor in this is the degree of saturation of the bluff material with water?

Of course water moves sediment, including the size range of particles we refer to as “sand.” Waves, streams, runoff from artificial hardscaping, etc.

These are just bits of the overall scene for the cove in question and for all sandy beaches. The picture is not clarified at all by simple assertions that ignore most of what is going on.

Carl May

Comment 41
Wed, October 18, 2006 9:49pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Barry,
It only looks that way because the rip rap is actually doing what it was intended: preventing that property from being washed away. The amount of land that has been removed from the red house is pretty proportionate to the other parts of the bluff along FMR that have no protection. Both to the south of the rip rap as well as the north of the rip rap the bluff is eroding away.

And Carl… what are you checking in about?


Of course the bluffside is generating sand for the beach, and so if there is no bluff to pull down to sea level, then there would be no sand. But, you will see if you visit that beach the sand comes and goes, every year after the storms pass. I don’t think anyone is arguing that rip rap does not affect the beach. The point is that the entire beach and bluff in this area has always been eroding, regardless of rip rap. The rip rap is not causing the red house to lose land, the ocean is doing it.
Ray

As someone who has sold several homes in this area including the one with rip rap,  I can tell you that I took my job very seriously and made sure each person was extremely well informed by real experts.

I had my clients hire a well respected geologist and structural engineer. Not only did we walk the beach looking at the different type of ways people protected their properties but the actual plans were reviewed.

And according to these experts,  the rip rap is the best way of protecting a home over the other types used in that area.

Again,  the problem is that there are a few unprotected areas that endander the beach,  not the rip rap.

It would also be nice if people could refrain from using such harsh terms as stupid or irresponsible when they don’t have all the facts.  Their lack of knowledge actually makes them sound stupid and irresponsible.

Steven Hyman

Riprap does armor the bluff it’s placed against but diverts force to the nearest unarmored bluff and also messes up sand migration which can leave bluff areas with less sand to absorb wave shock. 

If someone put riprap in place before the Coastal Commission took its stand against it, or if someone has an actual permit for it, then it’s highly unlikely that the riprap will ever be removed because it’s much, much more expensive to remove than it is/was to install it.

But if someone wants to process a Coastal Development Permit on a parcel containing riprap - permitted or not - there will be a serious discussion about it with either the local permitting authority or the Coastal Commission.

Outside of that process I don’t feel comfortable criticizing an individual who owns permitted or grandfathered riprap.  The permitting agency would be, I think, far more worthy of criticism.

Comment 44
Thu, October 19, 2006 3:30pm
Carl May
All my comments

I check in to see if anyone has learned anything about beach sand and associated bluffs that would allow them to make sensible statements rather than simple-minded ones that defy, at least in part, basic geological knowledge.

In “geological knowledge” I include the natural phenomena studied and characterized by the field of geology, not the contrivances rent-a-geologists might come up with to try to ameliorate the forces of nature over the short term for a particular piece of property in service of their employer and in full knowledge the amelioration—bluff armoring in this case—will harm the property of neighbors and harm public property. That is simply paid service to someone who wishes to overwhelm natural conditions by artificial means, and to heck with the consequences to nature and other people.

Yes, it is stupid, destructive, and irresponsible to knowingly engage in activities that harm the property of others and defy the natural condition of an area that is supposed to be preserved (features of California coast covered by the Coastal Act, natural features of a publicly owned marine reserve, etc.).

Most ridiculous of all is the notion that everything in a location has as its highest purpose the appeasement of the arbitrary whims of private property owners, no matter how ignorant they may be of the impacts of their mistakes and no matter how greedy the people selling to them to get a profit or commission. To suggest that degradation of the very natural features that make the coast attractive (even to many who do not understand the very real values of its natural assets) in service of reshaping by artificial means the physical condition of a piece of property to serve an arrogant or ignorant owner is to suggest that the negative environmental impacts of one’s whims should be discounted and that onje’s arbitrary desires should take precedence over everything and everyone else’s interests and that everyone else is at fault for not getting in on the stupidity of building on something like a retreating bluff and for not causing their own damage.

Hey, it’s also stupid to build in flood plains, on landslides, on soft substrate in seismically active areas, and so forth. Why blame the messenger for someone’s failure to deal with the realities of their world in a responsible manner?

When it comes to beach sand beyond this particular location, there are other negative impacts and stupidities due to past mistakes with development on the midcoast. Those who eventually decide to educate themselves on the geologic basics to the degree that they understand them will easily recognize these.

Carl May

Comment 45
Thu, October 19, 2006 5:51pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

There goes that superiority complex again… Oh well, same old thing.

Maybe one can visit the entire beach to see first hand how the ocean is impacting the beach and the bluff. I think it was the winter of 99 or 2000 where a large chunk of the red house’s property had fallen onto the beach. Well, at the same time there was much devastation south of the rip rap all along the bluff where the trees are sitting. Trees had fallen, and much of the bluffside had also fallen onto the beach. There is no rip rap in that area (I’m talking a hundred yards or more south of the house with the rip rap).

How about this.. If none of the rip rap had existed, the bluff side will still be falling into the beach, removing not only the red house’s property, but all the homes adjacent. Does anyone disagree? I state this because the road that used to along the bluff (The strand) is basically gone, so that tells me the ocean would continue to impact. These are the facts of this area.

Now what gets me is when some folks state.. “the rip-rap caused the red house to fall into the ocean” to folks that are not familiar with this area, then they start blaming these homeowners due to this misinformation.
Ray

Ray,

On 10/6 you stated “I agree with you that insults and naming calling are not productive and that they should be avoided”.  I think “There goes that superiority complex again“ qualifies as naming calling.


You have also insisted on sticking to facts and asking for clarification before jumping to conclusion. So that I don’t do that, could you provide me the links or reference material to support your “If none of the rip rap had existed, the bluff side will still be falling into the beach”.

I couldn’t find a private email for you, so sorry I couldn’t reply offline.

Bob

Its true that the public used to be able to enjoy walking along the Strand by Nevada 30-40 years ago.  Unfortunately the poor stewardship by SM County in protecting the public’s land eliminated that option.

That also allowed many of the reidents there to put up protective barriers to save their homes from the County’s neglect.

The harbor was also protected by a break water so the fishing industry could remain viable.  While its true that it pushed water southward probably creating Surfers Beach and the erosion of the beach endangering HWY 1.

The County had to protect HWY 1 from falling into the ocean so they put rip rap there for the good of the public.  Otherwise,  one of the state agencies probably would have used their power of eminent domain to take the scenic Burnham Strip and use it for HWY 1. Alternatively,  they could have routed all the traffic through downtown El Granada.

Its kind of funny to hear all the whinning from the rip rap haters when private property is at risk.  You know they would be screaming the loudest if public land was lost and they couldn’t visit that place once or twice a year.

Steven Hyman

This topic has touched a nerve. I’ve allowed some inflammatory language from both sides of this issue, but now is a good time to remind everyone to treat each other with respect.

Here are some links that contain information about impact from riprap increasing erosion rates along adjacent properties and how armoring an eroding beach eventually results in the loss of the beach.

http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/psds/news/The Oregonian Sep 03.doc

http://www.surfrider.org/structures/

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TD/TP_RES/research_notes/RSN06-04DynamicRev.pdf

And certainly some local evidence of the impact to adjacent land.

http://www.californiacoastline.org/cgi-bin/captionlist.cgi?searchstr=13294

While I found a lot of links explaining the purpose/benefits of riprap and links explaining the negative impacts of riprap, I could not find any stating that properties would be impacted with same erosion problems even if no riprap was done. If someone knows of any, I’d appreaciate the link.

Bob

Comment 50
Fri, October 20, 2006 5:16pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Bob,
I guess you perform selective reading? Please read Carl’s posts.. Like all of his other posts he writes in a very condescending way. It is blatant in his use of words. Maybe my statement was borderline name-calling. For that I apologize, but I feel he should not be wording his posts the way that he does. Also, the reference material I keeping speaking of is the very spot where the bluff is falling into the ocean. Here is my reference.. Drive to the west end of Ellendale. Get out of your car and walk along the street called The Strand. Notice that there is just a little piece of it left. It used to exist but has fallen into the ocean. There was no rip rap at the time this happened.

Barry, you are right in stepping in. I would like to see mutual respect in these posts.

Steve, you are exactly spot on!

Ray

Comment 51
Fri, October 20, 2006 5:19pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Bob,
One other thing… You can always go to “Member List” and look me up to find my e-mail address. It has always been there (you can ask Barry if you want).
Ray

If you click on a user’s name, you can get a couple of private communication options, if they haven’t turned them off, and other info about posters.

That’s where I thought I should find it but I didn’t realize one has to select the greyed empty box in column 2 to activate an email. Sorry

Just a suggestion, although maybe this topic has already played itself out…

Since this discussion does not seem to be about the surfing picture and I can see no rip rap in that picture, why not move the discussion to a topic on Townhall?

In order to save Barry any worry, if someone does move the discussion over there (don’t look at me!) all concerned might promise not to use inflamatory or condescending language.

Okay, that’s my bit of humor for the day!

Comment 55
Fri, October 20, 2006 8:56pm
Carl May
All my comments

The basic information is out there for folks to get past step 1 in their knowledge. Bob and Kevin found sources, others can too.

We are talking about interacting natural forces observable to all. To suggest that government is responsible for a private landowner’s mistake on a bluff moves responsibility one or two steps down the line from the origin of the mistake. To suggest that government should pay for extending a type of damage already done and permitted is nothing less than a con job to get we taxpayers to pay to extend or mitigate the mistakes of private landowners. To suggest that something is not stupid because government stupidly permitted a stupid activity makes no sense at all. It is not the taxpaying public’s responsibility to correct the mistakes of private property owners whether or not the mistake was permitted.

Welfare for beach wreckers in the name of property “protection,” what a concept.

Carl May

Comment 56
Sat, October 21, 2006 12:34am
Carl May
All my comments

Lost your library card? Read the few pages here on impacts (beginning on page 13) to see brief mention of most of the major and varying factors that need to be considered for a location before placing artificial structures on retreating bluffs:

http://www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/jointplan/reptoad/mb_pdf/development.pdf#search=‘deflection%20of%20waves%20by%20riprap’

Carl May

Comment 57
Sat, October 21, 2006 11:00am
Ray Olson
All my comments

So based on the link you just provided, it seems to me that you are agreeing to my recent question, which is:

If none of the rip rap had existed, the bluff side will still be falling into the beach, removing not only the red house’s property, but all the homes adjacent.

The document above talk about increasing the rate of erosion, which I believe is totally debatable in relation to this particular area. To prove that you would have to measure the amount of land that has been taken by the sea of the red house and compare that to the amount of land taken by the sea in other areas of the bluff of the FMR. I’m stating that they are fairly equal by observing how much of the bluff has been falling into the ocean. Add to that the fact that the house with the rip rap is not showing any loss of land (at the moment) and so it exaggerates the loss of land of the red house. Makes sense to me..
Ray

Comment 58
Sat, October 21, 2006 11:03am
Mary Bordi
All my comments

Unfortunately, the printed word can’t convey the inflection in Carl May’s voice. Perhaps if we could hear him say the following lines in person, they might not sound the way that I (and perhaps Ray Olsen) interpreted them:

To quote Carl May in this thread (you can find them all in the posts above):

The lack of an awareness of even basic geology for our area always amazes me.

Please, folks, just learn the geologic basics of sandy beaches. There’s a world of easy understanding out there to be tapped into and end your flailing at local subject matter…

My amazement concerns how little long-time local residents bother to learn about the area in which they live…

The basic information is out there for folks to get past step 1 in their knowledge.

Lost your library card?

I believe all the above could be phrased in a manner that would not be open to an unflattering interpretation of what the writer thought of those who do not agree with him or may not be as knowledgible in matters that he feels so strongly about.

In other words, the uninformed, such as myself, will stop reading his posts and never follow the links he’s giving.

All in good cheer, since you can’t hear the tone of my voice!

Comment 59
Sat, October 21, 2006 11:59am
Ray Olson
All my comments

Thank you Mary for your recent post, in which I am in total agreement to. And I apologize to the readers if my posts seem confrontational.


Let me put my opinion in one other way (hopefully my last). If someone can prove that the rate of erosion of the red house’s property is more than the rate of erosion of the bluff that is say south of the distillery then I would agree that it is highly likely that the cause of this rate is due to the rip rap that is adjacent to the red house.
Ray

Comment 60
Sat, October 21, 2006 6:42pm
Carl May
All my comments

It’s a naturally retreating bluff in that cove. Eighty-five percent of the California coastline is retreating (eroding). The question is not whether or not the bluff is eroding. It is about the changed rate and location of erosion due to armoring.

Beaches are not lost because bluffs retreat. In fact, if their sand sources persist, they maintain their width and follow the bluff. One source of beach sand on our coast, by the way, is bluff erosion. While it lasts, armoring starves the beach of the sand that would have come from its stretch of bluff. Also, more sand is lost than in natural conditions because some of the wave energy that hits the rip-rap is reflected back in greater amounts and pulls more sand off the beach in that location.

So the house with the rip-rap at Fitzgerald is a triple whammy for the beach in its immediate vicinity: the beach cannot follow the bluff and maintain its natural width, the beach is starved of the sand that the retreating bluff would have provided, and more sand is removed from the beach by reflected waves.

Of course, these are just some of the negative impacts at the location of the armoring and do not address negative impacts on neighboring properties or the contribution to the cumulative negative impacts on the entire cove from bluff armoring.

But has anyone mentioned the initial loss of beach in the location of the armoring? This is the loss due to the footprint of the rip-rap on a public beach. All in all, each instance of rip-rap armoring in the cove in question constitutes an uncompensated taking of public property by private property owners. This in a marine reserve where natural conditions are supposed to be preserved.

Carl May

Comment 61
Sun, October 22, 2006 1:42pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Ah… looks like we are in agreement.  Now we understand that this bluff is eroding anyways, and that if the debate is that the rip rap is increasing the rate of erosion of the bluff with the red house, it would have to be proven that the rate of erosion of this spot is greater than the rate of erosion of the southern parts of the bluff that have no rip rap.
Ray

I don’t think that we’re in agreement on very much at all, simply that the bluff is eroding.  That’s like agreeing that the sun will come up in the morning.

The main issue is that armoring causes loss of the beach, and natural erosion doesn’t.  Nothing else should matter—it’s not reasonable for property owners to steal the beach from the public at large just because they have a structure (house, hotel, restaurant, etc) in a stupid location which prior to purchase anyone with a clue would have known was not a viable location for the long term.

The argument about the danger of things falling onto the beach as the bluff erodes is a straw man argument—don’t build that stuff too close to the ocean and it won’t fall as natural processes proceed.  For the junk that’s already built too close, remove it before erosion causes it to fall.  Simple.

Comment 63
Sun, October 22, 2006 4:28pm
Carl May
All my comments

Comparison with the retreating bluff south of the Distillery is apples and oranges for the specific, multiple known forces working the beach and bluffs.

The beach and retreating bluffs at any given location are dynamically linked. Focus on a simple rate of erosion for the bluffs is, in the first place, specious because it does not consider the whole system at a location like the cove. The direction storm waves come in is a factor, and so is the height of the storm surge. The tides on which the storm waves arrive is another factor. The near offshore seafloor (steepness, composition, etc.) and rock formations (reefs, etc., that provide anything from protection of some spots to channeling wave energy at others)modify the waves at any given location, as surfers will testify. The season—winter when sand is pulled off most of our beaches beaches by higher than average wave energies or summer when sand piles up on most local beaches is another factor. The sand sources for the two beaches below the bluffs mentioned for comparison are different, leading to different average widths of the beaches, and, therefore, different degrees of protection of the base of the bluffs by beaches. With different percentages of sand from the basic three sources making up the two beaches, things like average grain size and grain surface contour of the sand on the beaches may differ, and that will contribute to yet other natural differences between beaches in any attempt at comparison of bluff/beach systems. Saturation of the bluffs with water from above and from drainage on the land is different for the two locations due to at least some differing sources of water for saturation—and the mass of the bluff adds into this important aspect of bluff failure, being greater on the high bluffs south of the Distillery than for the lower bluffs of the cove. So, on the basis of these factors and more that are well understood, the two bluffs would have to be “calibrated” to one another over a broad range of physical considerations before any comparison could be made.

And avoiding consideration of beach loss due to bluff armoring is disingenuous.

Carl May

Comment 64
Sun, October 22, 2006 5:09pm
Carl May
All my comments

But it’s not necessary to compare differing bluffs for the situation in question. Look at historic photos of the cove for the north-facing, retreating bluff in question. The line of retreat was fairly consistent along the face of the bluff. Now there is a concave bite out of the bluff between the rip-rapped bluffs on either side. Some component of storm wave energy is being deflected laterally from the armored areas rather than being dissipated by the rip-rap or reflected back toward the ocean, and this component adds to the wave energy that is eroding the bluff “anyways.”

So in addition to doing a taking of the public beach, the private property owners have done a taking of their neighbor’s property.

Though some are, not all places are as sold out or remain as sold out to real estate interests as ours.  Some have allowed building on retreating bluffs but have forbidden bluff armoring to protect beaches and to treat blufftop properties equally. In these cases, the building is allowed with the tacit understanding that the private property owner is making a mistake and cannot look to government to subsidize their mistake. Some may require that any development that ends up on the beach must be removed by the property owner.

Advancing from this, and making matters much easier on themselves for the immediate future, some coastal jurisdictions are requiring setbacks from the edges of retreating shorelines (remember, this is 85 percent of the California coastline) for any hard development, usually based on something like a 50, 75, or 100 year span for average yearly bluff retreat to reach the development. But this must also be done with strong caveats and a similar requirement of responsibility for the private property owner. Many stretches of bluffs will retreat only a few centimeters, if at all, in many years, then lose 25 or more feet in a very short period of storms with high-energy waves that reach the bluffs and rains that saturate the bluffs. A couple of El Ninos in a five-year period, as in the late 90’s, and 50 feet of bluff may be gone from some places—and the back rooms, decks, and patios of houses may quickly be falling off or hanging over the edge. Tough luck that the average rate of retreat was misleading, but the private property owner is still responsible for their own fate and responsible for cleaning up any mess they have made on the beach. Ignorance and stupidity are not defenses or reasons for tax money from the rest of us to be spent on private property mistakes.

Carl May

Comment 65
Sun, October 22, 2006 5:20pm
Carl May
All my comments

In addition to the midcoast, there have been some great examples of geolologic ignorance and stupidity in development of private property and infrastructure on the coastlines of Pacifica and Daly City over a bit more than the past half century—the period energized by the “full steam ahead” of the contrived growth ethic. Some will remember several periods when the bluff of the RV and mobile home parks along Palmetto fell off in big chunks, causing loss of the properties and all sorts of tries at bluff stabilization through revetments and sea walls (most of which lasted only a few years before they failed and had to undergo expensive repair, redesign, and/or rebuilding.

Then, just north of this stretch along the Esplanade, almost an entire block of homes in the Pacific Manor area lost what was left of its bluff in a couple of storms, causing parts of houses to break off and fall onto the beach (and providing me with over a dozen photo sales, one of which ended up in the entrance to an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History and was remarked on in the Pacifica paper by a local citizen who saw it in a visit to New York). What is really great is to look at pictures of these houses along the Esplanade when they were first built. Some look to my eye like they had 75 feet of bluff in back of the houses—so much that there were many feet of bluff in back of the fences on the oceanside property lines of the houses. All gone.

And so on through a littany of examples up through Daly City. Because what is going on is known (making ignorance no excuse), building on retreating bluffs is stupid. But the beaches below typically endure if there is no bluff armoring. Accelerating the erosion of unarmored bluffs with adjacent armoring (which damages neighboring property, at least until it eventually fails) is irresponsible, with the added damage to the beach inexcusable.

Carl May

Comment 66
Sun, October 22, 2006 8:48pm
Ray Olson
All my comments

Maybe I’m wrong but I thought the whole point of this discussion was about the house with the rip rap appearing to cause the red house’s property to be eroding?? If that is the topic for discussion, then I believe based on all of the information Carl and others have provided, that this bluff is eroding, and has been eroding regardless of rip rip. And that in fact if the rip rap that is next to the red house did not exist, the red house’s land would still be falling into the ocean. And, no one can argue that the history of this bluff side has continually eroded before there was rip rap. The bluff side without rip rap (Southern part of FMR) appears to be eroding just as fast as the red house’s property.
Ray