Imagine a dense, beautiful city bordered by a sandy, public beach.
Now if you're Los Angeles, you will see palm trees, basketball and volleyball courts, cafes, bars, galleries, ice cream parlors, and surf shops. It's paradise.
Go to San Francisco, and you will see Ocean Beach fronted with a four-lane highway and a graffiti covered seawall. There won't be bathrooms and you let the whole thing turn into a massive, post-apocalyptic bonfire pit.
“It's a little bit thrashed,” acknowledges Ben Grant, a planner with the think tank San Francisco Planning and Urban Research. “Whether that's a lack of bathrooms, a seawall that's beat to hell, parking lots in rough shape and falling into the beach. To me that speaks to the fact there's no agency that looks at Ocean Beach as a place, that looks at creating an experience for visitors, or protects a natural resource.”
Grant's organization has received a grant for more than $400,000 to devise a plan that will ultimately improve the beach. Called the Ocean Beach Master Plan project, the idea is to coordinate the various agencies responsible for the beach and hold them accountable so that the city's beachfront doesn't remain a wasteland.