It’s a chance to hear the gulls cry and the crash of the surf, a time to watch the antics of the plovers, sandpipers and godwits as they ply the tidal zone for breakfast.
It’s a time to discover what Mother Nature has delivered or uncovered overnight with the high tide; it might be some kelp alive with all sorts of tiny sea creatures or maybe some seashells, the gems of the beach. All in all, the sights and sounds are made to order for tourists and residents alike.
Or so you’d like to think.
Instead, the roar of heavy machinery assaults you. Legions of dump trucks and tractors belch noise and exhaust as they scurry to and fro. This is not an occasional occurrence. It happens nearly every weekday, starting well before the sun comes up and continuing to at least until mid-day.
Why? If you ask the Park and Recreation Department — the party responsible — the answer you get is pat, scripted and, to me, ridiculous. Among their answers are the claims they need to remove any kelp because people don’t like it, that they need to rake up the sand to maintain the berm that protects the lifeguard towers (yet much of it goes elsewhere) and — my personal favorite — that they need to do it (every day?) to ensure the safety of the emergency vehicles that drive on the beach.
What really is going on is noise and air pollution and a waste of taxpayer money, while the beautiful natural interface of the ocean and the shore is destroyed. Instead, it is being replaced with a gouged-up surface of tractor tread prints, half-buried kelp and whatever else was there, a surface that is not only ugly but uncomfortably difficult to walk on, and the destruction of the natural habitat of countless shore birds.
Meanwhile, the seawall crumbles, Oceanfront Walk floods (often staying that way for weeks) and the alleys and sidewalks are in need of repair.
This is not a call for the city to stop beach maintenance altogether. It is a suggestion to trim it back, to stop wasting so much time and money on what seems to be overdone, persistent and damaging efforts and focus those resources on upgrading and maintaining other assets of the beach community that attract many tourists and residents.