Editor: Along with the following article by U-T reporter Mike Lee about the erosion in Sunset Cliffs Park, was a photo purporting to show drastic erosion at the Park. But the photo (see above) is misleading as it shows a hillside full of ruts and erosion runways – yet a hillside I know well. The hillside is just beyond the intersection of Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Ladera Street. I know it well because I lived in the immediate neighborhood as a teenager and played on that very hill and others in the area. I can attest that the same hillside has looked that way since I was 13 (now I’m sixty-something).
But the debate over what to do and how to “control” the erosion at Sunset Cliffs goes on, but that discussion is not helped with misleading photos. We need to have the debate and utilize non-intrusive solutions.
By Mike Lee / U-T San Diego / Originally published Jan. 7, 2012
Across Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, fast-flowing water has carved chasms in the iconic seaside spot so that one prominent website recently named it one of the nation’s top five “disappearing places.”
Pounding waves such as the big ones that hit last week are the most obvious force and the impetus for armoring the shoreline so that Sunset Cliffs Boulevard doesn’t give way. But the problem that’s getting the most attention these days is the urban runoff that carries loads of soil to the ocean and leaves behind a labyrinth of increasingly frail dirt formations.
Because so much of the land uphill from the park is covered by roads and buildings, there’s relatively little space for rain water to soak into the soil, a classic environmental conundrum that defies cheap or quick solutions.
Two decades after pollution regulators highlighted the storm water problem at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego is a few months away from releasing a study that’s expected to call for a new multimillion-dollar drainage system that includes piercing the bluffs to divert water seaward.
Already, some community and environmental leaders are unhappy about the city’s approach. They are pushing for “softer” strategies aimed at capturing and reusing storm water in the drought-prone region — even as they worry that rethinking solutions will delay improvements.
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