Editor: In response to our recent post, “Sunset Cliffs – and surf culture – in danger of erosion” by Mary E Mann on July 20th, we have received the following article by Ann Swanson, current Chair of the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Council.
by Ann Swanson
The article on Sunset Cliffs is filled with misinformation and distortions. I welcome the opportunity to give the facts about the unique Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, the planning process, the approved Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Master Plan, the ongoing Comprehensive Drainage Study, and any other issues of concern about Sunset Cliffs. The community needs to work together to preserve beautiful Sunset Cliffs!
The public might find the following facts interesting.
The Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Council (SCNPC) is the City’s officially recognized advisory committee for Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. The SCNPC meets at 6:45 p.m. on the first Monday of each month (the 2nd Monday when the first falls on a City holiday). Meetings are held at the Cabrillo Recreation Center at 3051 Canon Street.
Currently, the SCNPC has 32 members (14 men and 18 women). In 2008 the City required all councils to update their bylaws to comply with the City’s new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Unfortunately, the new SOP established a membership limit of 25. After pleading with Park & Rec officials to let us keep our prior policy of unlimited membership, Park & Rec made the concession for the SCNPC to have a limit of 35 members.
The public is welcome at SCNPC meetings and their input is encouraged.
The Bench Issue
Park & Recreation Department staff members addressed the bench issue at the June SCNPC meeting. As Councilman Faulconer stated in his letter to the Beacon, he requested that the City’s Risk Management Department study Sunset Cliffs from a risk management perspective after a woman fell to her death.
It was Risk Management who determined that the guard rail benches presented a potential risk factor, a decision unknown to the SCNPC until after the benches had been removed.
In June the SCNPC voted to recommend re-installation of the guard rail benches which had been removed along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. (The statement that the SCNPC “was behind the push to remove the benches” is totally false. To create controversy out of agreement certainly seems counterproductive.) It should be noted that although the SCNPC voted to re-install the benches, the SCNPC is only advisory. The City is the final decision maker in all matters relating to Sunset Cliffs.
The Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Master Plan
The Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Master Plan, which received broad based community input and was officially approved in 2005, serves as the official guide for Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.
The Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Master Plan is essentially a preservation plan which addresses drainage, native habitat restoration, a protective trail system to minimize human caused erosion throughout the park, etc.
I was disappointed that Richard Aguirre was quoted in the OB Rag as crediting the SCNPC with goals which are contrary to the master plan. An example is his statement that the SCNPC plans to make the boulevard one way. Not true! The master plan specifically calls for maintaining Sunset Cliffs Boulevard as a two-way street.
Another example is the statement that the goal is to get rid of all parking lots. Also not true! The SCNP Master Plan does not call for getting rid of all the parking lots and would never have been approved by the California Coastal Commission if it had. The Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Master Plan can be accessed at the City’s web site here.
Erosion of the Cliffs
The Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Master Plan clearly reflects the concern about unnecessary erosion in the park by specifically calling for implementation of a new on-site comprehensive drainage plan for both the hillside and linear sections of the park.
The first step is a Comprehensive Drainage Study for both the hillside and linear sections which is being done by Dudek and Associates under the direction of City Engineer Paul Jacob.
An initial large community meeting was held by Dudek to share information about the study process & gather preliminary community input. A second community meeting will be held to share information on alternatives which were developed from the study and to receive community response and constructive input.
After completion of the study, one of the alternatives will be selected by the City and new consultants will be hired for designing engineering plans for the designated projects and necessary environmental review. After funding is obtained, implementation of the selected drainage plan will proceed.
It is my hope that the community will join together in support of the important process of implementing the protective Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Master Plan.
Ann Swanson is Chair of the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Council