Ocean Beach coastline might disappear due to beach erosion

Jessica Goss
Chris Flesher shields his eyes from the sun, in search of the best waves at Ocean Beach on Sept. 26. Photo by Jessica Goss.

The next time you’re at Ocean Beach, make sure to take a picture for the grandchildren, because it might not be there much longer.

According to a study published by SF State economics professor Philip King, a phenomenon called beach erosion is making the coastline of Ocean Beach disappear. The erosion will cause $540 million in damages to land and property over the next 100 years.

Beach erosion lives up to its name.

Sand is lost little by little to the naturally rising sea levels in a time frame sped up by weather, climate change and human inhabitants according to Alexandra Picavet, the spokesperson for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes Ocean Beach.

“The weather patterns, the strong storms, the currents, have all contributed to the beach erosion. It’s a natural process,” Picavet said. “[It] is something that is being seen as being accelerated through global climate change, so that is one way that human effects can be seen on the rate of erosion.”

King said geographic shifts have also been to blame for beach erosion.

“Sea level rise has been going on in California for a long time due to tectonic plates shifting and climate change. Climate change will make it worse, depending on which you believe,” King said.

Gary O’Keeffe, a construction cost estimator from San Rafael, surfs Ocean Beach’s waves as much as he can.

“Pretty much, I try to come out here every day, as much as my job and girlfriend would permit,” O’Keeffe said.