Sneer if you want, but we love us some Ocean Beach.

“Oh it’s too cold, it’s too foggy, it’s too dirty, the waves too gnarly” — shaddup. It’s in our backyard, and we love it. Heck, we loved it even when we lived in the Excelsior, and “Haight/Noriega” sounded exotic.

So when this wet and wintry weather broke for a few hours, we did what we often do, living as we do a crawl away from the surf: we went down to the water for a walk.

Now, we fully expected to see all manner of stuff washed up on shore, what with the storm and all. Indeed, we were excited for it (to this day, we wow houseguests with an array of oddly shaped, pitted and otherwise wave-worn rocks we picked up near Half Moon Bay a few years back).

And see stuff we did — the requisite found sculptures made with driftwood, piles and piles of kelp, and…


Pen caps. Bottle caps. Bits of bags, pieces of cups, jugs, bottles, lids — plastic.


We’re well aware of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, so the notion of junk in the water is not a new one. Still, Saturday’s haul was a new one for us. A toilet seat. A car door. A Nestle Quik container covered in barnacles.

The beach was covered in piles of kelp, from Fort Funston to Seal Rock. And in every pile of rotting seaweed was chunks and bits and shards of plastic.

The notion of cleaning all this up was staggering; it would take a bulldozer all day to pile up the crap somewhere, then a dump truck to haul it away. The job would not fall to the city: Ocean Beach is federal parkland, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

We’ve checked with the appropriate spokespeople to see what the cleanup plan is, but have yet to get a response — we’ll let you know when we do. When we were there, cleaning services were provided by a lone woman, wearing yellow kitchen gloves and dragging a garbage bag. You could have mistook her for a can or bottle seeker; but there was very, very little glass, tin or aluminum washed up on shore. Just plastic.

“i just wanted to clean up a little bit,” she said, after identifying herself as just a local, loosely connected with the surf scene. She’d been at it a few minutes, just picking through a few piles at Judah Street, and already her garbage bag was half full.

“This is pretty bad,” she said.

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