Boulder Plan Does Not Rock
Sandbags could save surfers: There is an alternative to dumping riprap (boulders and rocks) on the beach to respond to the emergency situation at Sloat and Great Highway ["Wave Goodbye," Chris Roberts, Sucka Free City, 2/3], especially considering that the long-term plan described by Peter Mal (Army Corps of Engineers) is to pump thousands of tons of sand directly onshore at Sloat. DPW cited this option in its assessment — it's called huge frickin' sandbags, or coir fiber sacks. These sacks are as big as a house and constructed of biodegradable coconut fiber husk. They can hold 10 to 20 tons of sand each.
If we are indeed planning to pump sand onto the beach as a long-term solution, then let's use the bags, cover them with the dredged sand once the retrofit to the dredge is complete, and let the bags erode beneath the sand. Guess what this leaves behind, folks? Sand! Novel idea.
DPW says it will remove the riprap when and if the dredge is ready to pump sand onshore. With the coir sacks, this is unnecessary. Perhaps this is a way to rationalize it as a cost-neutral alternative to riprap.
State EPAs all over our country have recommended this option in similar situations where dunes are rapidly eroding. As the S.F. DPW said, this alternative may require more maintenance than riprap; it will be slightly more expensive than dumping boulders initially — but it is a compromise the beach can live with.
It is also imperative that we contact our representatives in Congress and request that the dredge be retrofitted to pump sand onshore and protect our beaches. Perhaps they can apply for the funds needed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Either way, it is unrealistic for the Ocean Beach Task Force and others to obstinately lobby for managed retreat and relocation of the sewer pipe and plant in the short term — especially when our state and city seem nearly bankrupt. Compromise, people, compromise.
No More Murder
Are reformed prisoners community assets?: I write to commend Ashley Harrell for the wonderful article about Lonnie Morris ["No Way Out," Feature, 1/27]. As a volunteer at San Quentin State Prison, I have known Morris for more than two years, first meeting him through the No More Tears program. I have found him to be all the things Harrell says he is, and appreciate her appreciation of this fine man.
Harrell's article is a perfect mix of warmth, facts, and personal coverage. I wish there were articles like hers daily so that the public understood that men like Morris (and there are many) could and should be ensuring public safety in their communities rather than being locked up.
I am currently working with the San Quentin T.R.U.S.T. Program. My main goal is to create public awareness about how vital, creative, and caring these men are, what assets they could be to their communities, and to change the public image of prisoners and the criminal justice system.
Music in the Ether
Head in the clouds: I'm a huge fan of cloud music, specifically Lala ["Gathering of the Digital Clouds," Ezra Gale, Music, 1/20]. It's exciting to go beyond the very predictable, machine-chosen-for-the-mass-market hits on the radio, fully try before I buy (one full listen to any song for free), and check out bands and songs I read about online and in magazines. As a result, I've discovered so much great new music in a relatively short time and have downloaded more music (both adding to my cloud list plus downloading songs to load onto my iPod) in the past few months than I have in the past few years. I'm hoping cloud computing revives music in general (have you heard the crappy Grammy nominations this year?) and allows access to great bands that normally wouldn't have an audience and make money. Incidentally, iTunes just bought Lala, so someone is listening.