Storms erode beach at new Marine Reserve steps

Posted by on Fri, December 31, 2010

Sabrina Brennan
Sabrina Brennan
Pelican Eye has photos of how erosion from this week's storms have eroded the beach near the new staircase at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
The first storms of the season have carved a ditch into the beach in front of the new Fitzgerald Marine Reserve staircase. Hopefully the County Parks Department has a plan to remedy the drainage problem before erosion jeopardizes the $239,000 staircase. Representative Jackie Speier and Dave Holland, Director of San Mateo County Parks dedicated the new staircase on Wednesday, October 27, 2010.

Comment 1
Tue, January 4, 2011 2:10pm
Carl May
All my comments

No biggie. Sand is washed off our beaches in the winter and redeposited in the summer. The degree to which this happens depends partially on the number and size/intensity of winter storms. No rigid artificial structures built onto beaches can be tuned to all possibilities. Look at the aerial survey of the California coastline for (at least) hundreds of examples.

Good point. I’ve certainly seen the seasonal change on the stairs at Montara State Beach.

As Pacifica cliff crumbles, city scrambles for plan B

“The owner of Lands End Apartments at 100 Esplanade wants to build a massive sea wall to deflect the waves, a proposal that has received a lukewarm response from the California Coastal Commission. The sea wall would extend up to 17 feet above the beach, be made of reinforced concrete 24 inches thick, and cover a stretch of lower bluff below the apartments.”

Link to San Mateo County Times article:
by Julia Scott

On a low tide visit to the stairs and beach on January 4, the access to the stairs appeared in good order.

The storm water drainage problem has not been resolved.  I imagine it will take time and more money before the County implements a solution.  Hopefully this will be on top of the priority list for 2011.

Comment 6
Wed, January 5, 2011 10:45am
Barry Parr
All my comments

I’ve updated Len’s comment with some photos he emailed to me.

Note the drainage pipe and waterfall next to the staircase. A mud slide covered the lower steps during one of the recent storms.  The soil has been removed and access is fine for now.  Chunks of bluff below the end of the pipe are on the beach.  The pipe is accelerating the natural rate of erosion.  We have the same situation in multiple locations in Moss Beach.  This is not uncommon however it’s less than ideal for the new $239,000 staircase.

Comment 8
Wed, January 5, 2011 5:16pm
Carl May
All my comments

Again, the beach isn’t the problem. It’s the overengineered design of the project, which involved unnecessary digging away at the bluff on either side of the stairs. (Not that this was an entirely natural situation, anyway—note the iceplant on the bluff.) It only took a few modest storms for the reworked bluff on the “south” side of the stairs to fail. But, hey, don’t despair. Now the county can waste even more money trying to fix the mistakes by making more mistakes. These buffoonish mistakes for the sake of “recreation” take on an enduring life of their own. Maybe we can get an additional out-of-place interpretive display on the eventual repairs in the ridiculous entry area for the stairs with the trucked-in rock.

Tough to imagine the county of the present doing anything right in this part of Fitzgerald, where they can’t even locate the California Coastal Trail where it has already served well on an ad hoc basis for the last decade and a half.

Update: The erosion problem next to the new FMR staircase is getting worse with each winter storm.

What are the grant funders contract terms with for maintenance?

Is seems the County should be required to cover the cost of repairs and maintenance because they were negligent with regards to storm water drainage.

I released a comment on this story a little while ago which turned out to be from a spammer trying to get off pre-moderation.  If you’re interested, I posted an explanation on my blog at MediaSavvy:

Who’s the genius in the County that approved this guaranteed-to-fail design?

And, given the concocted multi-use necessity that helps justify wasting orders of magnitude more money, how could the approving authorities fail to notice it is a harrowing, severely bumpy ride down for wheelchairs? And one heck of a muscle burner and balancing act for them to get back up.

The new Fitzgerald Marine Reserve staircase is currently being undermined by storm water runoff from an open drain pipe located next to the foundation of the stairs. 

Has the MCC gotten any update on the erosion problem from the County?

Link to photos: