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Battle To Keep San Francisco's Ocean Beach From Washing Away

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – As he watched crews frantically work to short up the dunes at San Francisco's Ocean Beach, surfer Robert Wolffe couldn't help but think back to what it once was.

Wolffe has been surfing the break along Ocean Beach for the last 40 years and he has watched as the dunes and shoreline have been washed away foot-by-foot.

"Just in the last year, we've probably lost 20 0r 30 feet off the dunes here," Wolffe told KPIX 5 pointing to the waves crashing on the shoreline. "It was a gradual slope, there was a beach out there all along here."

The Coastal Commission has warned with cities didn't act now, we'd pay the price later. They have predicted the sea will rise 66 inches be 2100.

So San Francisco began a project Thursday aimed at shoring up the disappearing shoreline.

"It's chronic," said Anna Roch from the San Francisco Department of Water, Power and Sewer. "It (the erosion) has been going on for years."

The crews are moving sand from the north side of the beach to the south side.

"The short term solution is to move the sand from the north side of the beach where we have too much sand to the south end of the beach where we're having chronic erosion," she said.

While officials said the project will help, long-time beachgoers like Wolffe know if may just be a matter of time before Ocean Beach becomes a memory like the Sutro Baths and Playland at the Beach.

"They did fill this in what 2 or 3 year ago, the dunes went out 20 feet," he said.

Now they are gone.

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