«A thesis submitted to the faculty of San Francisco State University In partial fulfillment of The requirements for The degree Master of Arts In ...»
Several elements influenced the flood control methods considered and selected for the project, including the environmental movement and flood control policies.
Meso-level policies generated traditional flood control methods. The Flood Control Act of 1936 required that the benefits of a project exceed the costs; however, this cost/benefit analysis relied on economic costs and benefits, and did not take into consideration environmental costs or benefits. Federal flood control policies established
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 77structural methods as the standard, in part because they tended to be less expensive than other options (Galal 2003). Work in natural hazards (meso-level influence) starting in the 1940s emphasized a multi-faceted approach toward flood control and helped to change attitudes to move flood control away from structural-only solutions. However, agencies (meso-level elements) affected by federal policy didn’t begin to translate this new attitude into action for many decades. Some of the responsibility for this change can also be attributed to the environmental movement (macro-level influence).
Funding opportunities also influenced the objectives of the flood control project.
Pacifica quickly developed into a “bedroom community” in the early 1950s as part of the housing boom following World War II (macro-level element) (City of Pacifica 2001). As a result Pacifica lacks a broad tax base, and finding funding for projects such as flood control is often difficult. Pacifica’s limited tax base also impacts its ability to get funds from federal sources. Section 205 of the 1948 Flood Control Act requires that the local sponsor of a flood control project meet funding requirements for the project in order to receive federal funds (Legal Information Institute 2004b). For the Section 205 project started after the 1982, flood funding opportunities from organizations (meso-level elements) supporting environmental restoration provided the city with other avenues for obtaining funding for its share, provided that the flood control project involved environmental restoration. A flood control project without an emphasis on environmental restoration would have had far fewer funding opportunities.
the options considered to address the flood problem in part because of the environmental movement (macro-level influence), changing flood control methods (meso-level influence), and funding opportunities (meso-level influence). As the project progressed these and other meso- and micro-level elements impacted the project’s objectives.
Flood of 1962 After the 1962 flood city staff (meso-level element) expressed the need to address the flooding or drainage problem as they called it. The primary objective of flood control at this time was to reduce flooding by improving the drainage system to allow water to move out of the area more quickly. As expected, the city engineer (meso-level element) proposed using flood control methods common at the time. City Engineer Al Roberts suggested that the drainage system be upgraded to increase the size of the stream channel and to line the channel with concrete – all traditional flood control responses of the time (Pacifica Tribune 1962b). Former Mayor Gerry Schumacher mentioned paving over the creek (i.e. placing the creek in a culvert) in the “Pacifica Gardens” neighborhood (near the creek in the vicinity of Peralta Road and Adobe Drive) (Pacifica Tribune 1962g). In August 1963 the citizens Drainage Committee (meso-level element) recommended “a progressive program of construction of major storm drainage improvements” (Pacifica Tribune 1963b, 3) that would be
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 79financed by issuing $2 million in bonds (Pacifica Tribune 1963a). City staff (likely the Department of Public Works) did line the stream channel near Capistrano in 1963 (Pacifica Tribune 1963b); however, the city council apparently was unable to obtain funding for the major drainage work and the project was eventually dropped. As Figure 2 shows, only a few elements were involved in the hazard response during this time period; however, this began to change.
Beginning of the Environmental Movement in Pacifica As the environmental movement (macro-level element) gained momentum in the late 1960s, environmentalists (micro-level elements, as well as meso-level organizations) in San Pedro Valley expressed a desire to protect San Pedro Creek. As predicted in traditional flood hazards research, residents were less vocal about the flooding problem given that several years had passed since the 1962 flood. Ultimately environmentalists (micro- and meso-level elements) influenced the objectives and methods of the flood control projects determined by the meso-level elements.
Local environmentalists and residents (micro-level elements) expressed concern over the diminished state of San Pedro Creek and its native steelhead population (Pacifica Tribune 1969; Lynn 1969). The creek was polluted and filled with trash, including “tires, water heaters and scores of shopping carts” (Lynn 1969, 1, 3); (Pacifica Tribune 1969), despite creek cleanup campaigns (Pacifica Tribune 1969). In his 1969 article “Death of a Creek” Patrick Lynn argued that very few people, including official
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 80agencies, had stepped forward to stop the creek’s decline. Lynn placed responsibility for the degraded creek on the North Coast County Water District for reducing the flow in the creek by withdrawing water from the creek, the city for allowing untreated sewage from a city dump to leak into the stream, and developers for culverting the stream in several locations. Lynn also blamed residents for polluting the creek, including by draining their car oil onto the street, which empties into the gutters and eventually the creek (Lynn 1969).
Local committees (meso-level elements) proposed actions to improve the creek and its steelhead habitat, including controlling erosion, reducing sewage entering the creek, and increasing resident awareness of the direction connection between the storm drains and the creek (Pacifica Tribune 1969). The new Parks, Beach and Recreation Department Director, Bob Toole, also expressed his dismay at the degraded state of the creek and sought proposals from the Parks, Beach and Recreation Commission (Lynn 1969).
At the request of the Pacifica Creek Protection Committee, on February 14, 1972 the city council approved the development of a plan to preserve San Pedro Creek (San Pedro Creek Master Plan Committee 1974, 1). The San Pedro Creek Master Plan Committee, a citizens committee, began working with the Parks, Beach & Recreation Commission to develop a plan to preserve and protect the creek, and in particular the steelhead trout (San Pedro Creek Master Plan Committee 1974). The Pacifica Creek Protection Committee involved the public in the process on June 8, 1972, and
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 81subsequently many other groups became involved, such as the North Coast County Water District, Ecology Action, area high schools and academic specialists (San Pedro Creek Master Plan Committee 1974, 1).
The San Pedro Creek Master Plan Committee as well as individuals and other groups supporting environmental protection began to influence the city’s view of the creek. Before the October 1972 flood one city official, City Manager Jim Swayne, proposed building a drainage system under Linda Mar to supplement the drainage function of the creek and allow the creek to remain natural (Pacifica Tribune 1972c).
After the 1972 flood Acting City Manager Dwight French described the creek as having two incompatible purposes: one as a scenic asset and one as a drainage channel during floods (Galstan 1972). French proposed two alternate solutions to address this incompatibility: 1) regrade and raise the creek banks, or 2) construct an additional drainage pipe (Galstan 1972, 2).
During the 1972 flood the main storm sewers were overwhelmed by the high volume of water, pushing water into the sanitary sewers, which then overflowed and caused sewage to flow into San Pedro Creek (McNally 1972). Shortly following the flood, Elden Dallanina, chair of the Pacifica Creek Protection Committee, raised the issue with the State Water Quality Control Board (McNally 1972). Dallanina expressed concern that while people are trying to clean up the creek, the city was dumping sewage into it (McNally 1972). Although the city anticipated that improvements in the sewer
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 82system would help correct the problem, it admitted that in order to solve the problem a larger main sewer line was needed (McNally 1972).
The 1972 flood undoubtedly influenced the San Pedro Creek Master Plan, adopted June 19, 1973 (San Pedro Creek Master Plan Committee 1974). The master plan provided suggestions for addressing erosion, pollution, and flooding, including a public education program on the impacts of pollution on the creek and the steelhead. For flood control the plan advocated an “underground by-pass system,” which would leave the existing stream channel in place, and denounced any ideas to culvert the stream channel or line it with concrete (San Pedro Creek Master Plan Committee 1974, 9).
The shift from viewing the creek solely as a drainage channel and flood hazard to incorporate the creek as a natural environment and asset originated with the macrolevel environmental movement. The environmental movement influenced micro- and meso-level elements, including residents and organizations, who influenced other microand meso-level elements, including the city staff who determined objectives and methods of flood control (Figure 3).
Flood of 1972 In response to the 1972 flood, the city (city staff or the city council) initiated a flood control project and requested help from the Corps in January 1973 (USACE and City 1998a). Regardless of any objectives put forth by the city (meso-level element), policies at the Corps (meso-level influences) constrained the options for the flood
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 83control project. These policies included ensuring that the economic benefits exceeded the economic costs and that any project provided 100-year flood protection (Galal 2003). A citizens committee (meso-level element) appointed by the city council (mesolevel element) worked together with the Corps (meso-level element) on a Section 205 flood control study, studying several alternatives. The alternatives considered reflect the Corps’ continued reliance on traditional structural flood control methods (mesolevel influences), including a reservoir, concrete or rock lining of the channel, an underground bypass, bridge replacement, and a floodwall (Appendix A). The Corps determined that the “economically justified” alternatives were the Trapezoidal RockLined Channel Modification, the Floodwall and Floodplain Modification, and the Levee and Bypass Channel Modification (USACE 1988, 7). From these three, the citizens committee selected the Floodwall and Floodplain Modification as their preferred alternative (USACE and City 1998a). The committee’s preference for one of the few alternatives that would not alter the stream channel undoubtedly reflected the increased desire to protect the creek expressed by residents (micro-level elements).
The citizens committee worked with the Corps on this flood control study through 1975 (USACE and City 1998a, 10-1). Early in 1976 the city council declared that funds would not be available for the city’s entire share of the flood control project (SPFCC 1985, 10), and work on the project stopped (USACE and City 1998a, 2). The environmental movement (macro-level element) and more specifically work by the Pacifica Creek Protection Committee and the San Pedro Creek Master Plan Committee
Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 84(meso-level elements) likely influenced public sentiment about the flood control project.
This public sentiment probably impacted the city’s willingness and ability to seek funding for the project (meso-level influence). Scott Holmes later credited environmentalists (micro- and meso-level elements) with blocking the flood control project (Holmes 2003b).
With the advent of the environmental movement and by involving the Corps in the hazard response, the objectives of the project began to broaden and the number of elements linked together in the response following the 1972 flood increased substantially (Figure 3).
Flood of 1982 After the 1982 flood the city council proposed another citizens flood control committee, whose objective was to “develop a proposed flood and erosion control improvement plan(s) for the lower Linda Mar area with a recommended method of financing that is economically feasible for the city to attempt to implement in the near future” (SPFCC 1985, Appendix E). Although the objective of the flood control project as set out by the city council was primarily flood control, as planning for the project progressed the committee and city staff broadened the objectives to accommodate the influences of other elements.
The flood control committee met for the first time in June 1984 (LLMAFCIC 1984a). Within the first five months, the committee reviewed the Corps’ 1975 flood