Oyster Point Marina Underwater

Please checkout my presentation about chronic flooding at the Oyster Point Landfill.

The map below indicates the area the color photo were shot.

Please click the map to see a larger version. The map photo represents a low tide.

Oyster Point Marina is result of Bay fill dump era

Trash Dumps and the Hidden History of the Bay Shoreline    First there were marshes; then there were dumps. The dumps were eventually turned into regulated landfills, and the landfills into shoreline parks.

Trash Dumps and the Hidden History of the Bay Shoreline

First there were marshes; then there were dumps. The dumps were eventually turned into regulated landfills, and the landfills into shoreline parks.

The Oyster Point Landfill is a closed, unlined Class III landfill that was in operation from 1956 to 1970. Prior to 1956, what would become the Oyster Point Landfill area consisted of tidal marshlands and upland soils and bedrock.

Between 1956 and 1970, the City of South San Francisco leased the site (approximately 57 acres) to South San Francisco Scavenger Company

In 1956, Scavenger began disposal operations at the landfill. Initially, municipal solid waste was disposed of on the ground and burned. This activity ended in 1957 following the enactment of laws prohibiting open air burning of rubbish in the Bay Area. To address the new air quality restrictions South City and Scavenger established a solid waste disposal site on the submerged lands just east of the original Oyster Point. 

The landfill was developed in three phases. Filling of the first section began in 1957 and was completed by late 1961. The first area to be filled extended into the Bay about 1,500 feet eastward from the original bluff. Scavenger placed waste directly into the tidelands and used a wire fence to control the discharge of solids into the Bay due to tidal action. Waste disposal operations eventually resulted in the relocation of the shoreline approximately 3,000 feet to the east of the pre-landfill shoreline. 

The landfill material consists of up to 45 feet of poorly compacted municipal and industrial waste. Typical waste found within the landfill includes the following: chemicals, drums, paper, cardboard, organic matter, wood, glass, metal, rubber, rocks, concrete, and other materials. The base of the landfill material has been compressed into, and mixed with, the upper part of the Bay Mud. The volume of waste in the landfill is approximately 2.5 million cubic yards and total tonnage of this material is approximately 1.4 million tons. This volume of waste would cover a football field almost to the height of the Empire State Building. 

Beginning in 1961, the landfill received liquid industrial waste for disposal. The types of liquid waste included paints, thinners, and coagulated solvent sludge. The liquid wastes were placed in a sump (Sump 1). No records describing the construction of the sump have been found. Liquid industrial wastes were disposed of in this sump from 1961 until 1966. In July 1966, the City of South San Francisco discontinued the use of Sump 1 and used Sump 2 until 1967. The total volume of liquid industrial waste received by the landfill in 1965 and 1966 is estimated at 608,351 and 378,680 gallons, respectively. Sump 1 alone is almost enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool. 

Consistent with landfill practices at that time, no liner was installed at the site. Waste disposal design features such as liners, cellular division of waste, and leachate collection systems were not installed. Instead, the waste materials were placed directly onto the Bay Mud and soils overlying bedrock. In order to contain the solid waste from contact with waters of the State, Bay Mud berms were constructed around portions of the waste disposal areas in 1961, 1962, and 1964. However, there is no data to suggest that the industrial waste sumps were ever constructed with additional berms or dikes to control the migration of liquid wastes. 

In 1962, a small craft harbor was constructed along the north shore of the landfill. To create a breakwater for the east side of the marina, the second phase of landfill was placed in the form of a mole extending from the eastern end of the first fill and north about 400 feet into the Bay. The third phase of filling began in 1964 and was accomplished by dredging up Bay Mud and forming mud dikes and a dike-enclosed cell in which solid waste was later placed.

Upon completion of the disposal operations, various landfill closure activities took place through the late 1980s. The closed landfill then became the site for development of the Oyster Point Marina/Park.  

The landfill is currently owned by the City of South San Francisco and is operated as a marina, ferry terminal, yacht club, hotel, office space, and open space. South City is responsible for landfill maintenance and the San Mateo County Harbor District manages marina operations pursuant to a Joint Powers Agreement that terminates in 2026.

South City hopes to redevelop the site. The 2015 Semiannual Oyster Point Landfill Report states that a project would include excavation of landfill materials at the former Oyster Point Landfill and relocation of these materials on- and/or off-site. The landfill cap would be upgraded to meet the current requirements of Title 27 of the California Code of Regulations with the approval of the Regional Water Quality Control Board and San Mateo County Environmental Health Division. 

The first phase of redevelopment plans call for up to 600,000 square feet of office/R&D space, envisioned as a biotech campus, and possibly a retail/restaurant building, in the area currently occupied by the existing commercial development at the eastern side of the landfill site. Phase I also includes the reconfiguration of Marina Boulevard and a portion of Oyster Point Boulevard, and a shuttle turn-around will be constructed adjacent to the Ferry Terminal. Parcels to the east of the new development will be graded and improved as sports fields. Further east a future hotel and retail complex is envisioned. The existing Yacht Club structure and the Harbor District maintenance building would remain.

Where is the wisdom in developing such a risky site?  Health, safety, and public access concerns include flooding from landfill subsidence and sea-level rise, Bay saltwater breaching the landfill cap, underground electrical saltwater intrusion, gas explosions, and liquefaction.

On Dec. 9, 2015, Bruce H. Wolfe, Executive Officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board sent the City of South San Francisco an enforcement letter regarding recurrent flooding overtopping the landfill cap.  The San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control BoardSan Mateo County Division of Environmental Health, and Bay Area Air Quality Management District are the agencies that regulate the landfill.


Refer to the following documents for more info:

King Tide flooding at Oyster Point Marina—Wed., Nov. 25, 2015


Women to compete at Mavericks!

To-date no women have competed in the Mavericks surf contest and the event does not include a women’s heat. Typically competitive surfing heats are not mixed gender. Requiring that top women athletes preform like top male athletes is unreasonable. By doing this the Titans of Mavericks board of directors and “Committee 5” have effectively blocked women from competing.

I support including an all women’s heat in the Mavericks event. Not a mixed gender heat.

 Paige Alms of Haiku, Maui

Please checkout my Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 presentation to the California Coastal Commission. 

After my presentation Coastal Commissioner Mark Vargas of Los Angeles made a motion to amend the Coastal Development Permit for the Titans of Mavericks surf contest and add a condition to allow women to compete in the 2016-2017 event. Commissioner Martha McClure of Del Norte County seconded the motion.  The motion passed in a 7-4 vote.

Coastal Commission 7-4 vote count

  • Bochco - no
  • Cox - yes
  • Groom - no
  • Howell - yes
  • Lueveno - yes
  • McClure - yes
  • Shallenberger - no
  • Turnbull-Sanders - yes
  • Uranga - yes
  • Vargas - yes
  • Kinsey - no


Coastal Commissioner Mark Vargas made the following remarks and motion:  

“I'm still a little concerned about the fact that there is no clear plan for highlighting, involving, or encouraging the growth of women in this event or in this sport.  I would really love to see an amendment.  I understand that were too close to the event this year, but if this is going to be contemplated as an extension (permit extension) that could possibly have four more years of extension we should start contemplating a plan for encouragement and inclusion on women in this event. So that we (Coastal Commission) can review it, and have that information available for next year when this permit comes back up for renewal. I appreciate that it's a one time, one year permit but Mavericks has been going on for a long time and Mavericks will continue to go on.  I'm sure we'll be back here next year and it would be unfortunate if we don't start planning now for the inclusion of women and to see more women involved in this program, and not wait until a year from now.  
I'll float it out there.  I'd like to see if I can make an amending motion to add a specific condition that we ask the applicant to provide a plan for encouraging equal opportunity for women surfers in future events.”


My presentation is 2:10:37 minutes into the video and the motion is 2:56:24 into the video.

 Maya Gabeira of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


News links:

Mavericks needs women

Half Moon Bay Review — Op-Ed by Sabrina Brennan — Jan 27, 2016

Just Add Water: Women seek equal footing at Mavericks

Santa Cruz Sentinel — Haven Livingston — Dec 19, 2015

Half Moon Bay local Sabrina Brennan presented a sideshow of female big wave surfers during the California Coastal Commission hearing in November when the commission approved a coastal development permit for the Titans of Mavericks big wave surf contest. Brennan, also a San Mateo Harbor Commissioner, said she attended the meeting as a concerned citizen. She has been watching women surf Mavericks, located near the Pillar Point Harbor, for years and has been disappointed to never see them in the contest. She intended to illuminate inequality in the selection process that newcomer Cartel Management and its “Committee 5” use to select Titans of Mavericks invitees.

Mavericks Faces Pressure for Women to Surf Big-Wave Contest

Forum KQED radio — host Mina Kim — Fri, Dec 11, 2015

  • Guests: Bianca Valenti, professional surfer and Bruce Jenkins, sports columnist, San Francisco Chronicle

Women want spot in big wave surf competition in California

Washington Post — By Kristin J. Bender — Dec 5, 2015

How Women Will Evolve Big Wave Surfing

Inertia — by Beth O'Rourke — Nov. 16, 2015

Add women to Mavericks lineup and be on right side of history

Half Moon Bay Review — by Clay Lambert — Nov. 11, 2015

Women to get fair shake at Mavericks

Santa Cruz Sentinel — by Haven Livingston — Nov. 6, 2015

Titans gets Coastal Commission approval: Permit issued for Mavericks surf competition

San Mateo Daily Journal — by Samantha Weigel — Nov. 6, 2015

Mavericks organizers get crucial last permit

Half Moon Bay Review — by Carina Woudenberg — Nov. 5, 2015

Jackie Speier: Planning for Sea Level Rise