al and swan

Hello everyone, 

Thank you to each of you who attended last night’s City Council meeting or sent letters in advance.

The April 9th City Council meeting is important in the history of West Cliff and Santa Cruz. 

The 50-year vision for West Cliff was approved, the one-way pilot was voted down and the Lighthouse Point Hazard Analysis and Engineering Study was approved.

Santa Cruz Local reported on the City Council Meeting last night here, as well Lookout Santa Cruz, this morning.

Al Ramadan spoke on behalf of Save West Cliff and he started with this perspective:

"We are the first generation to feel the consequences of a warming planet and the last generation that can steer a different course."

Words from “California Against the Sea,” a book published a few months ago. 

The author, Rosanna Xia, examines how California coastal communities are approaching the impacts of climate change.  

At the core, it's about ALL of us:

- Taking collective responsibility 

- Having the courage to embrace change.  

- Being open to reimagining a new and different future for the places that we love.”


“Now the real work begins as we translate this 50-year vision into plans and action via what the City of Santa Cruz calls a Resilient West Cliff Accessible to All Roadmap. 

The Roadmap for the next decade is the first step toward implementation and activation.  

It will set the foundation for the decades that follow.  

We believe there are two big strategic questions for our First Decade Roadmap.

  • Can we move the wave energy away from our cliffs and coastline to slow erosion?
  • How do we manage access and transportation in such a dynamic environment?”


“Let’s start with the challenging topic of Access and Transportation.

While the 50-year vision focuses on 2073, there are many unanswered questions about the here and now. 

Questions like:

- How much clifftop space do we have to work with?

- How much room do we need to meet our collective needs?

- Can we rearrange the existing configuration to accommodate these needs?

- Is there a way to add more pedestrian and bike lanes?

- Does it have to be all or nothing, or can it be a mix?

- What are the likely impacts on local neighborhoods of new configurations?

- Beyond the local neighborhood, where would traffic get routed, and what impacts would it have on our City?

These questions need answers before meaningful change can be proposed. 

We believe maintaining two-way traffic should be the starting point for the First Decade Roadmap discussions.

And we don’t support the one-way trial as proposed."


“Turning to the 2nd strategic question of whether we can move the swell energy away from the coastline to slow coastal erosion.

The biggest threat to West Cliff comes from extreme west swells. Damage from these storms is the reason we have one-way and no-way traffic right now. 

Dr. Griggs has been warning us for four decades.

We believe we should dedicate more time, energy, and money to this topic than any other, including the one-way debate. 

In the 50-year vision process, we explored four different approaches to adapting our coastline. 

The community identified two popular alternatives but then the process was abruptly diverted back to the one-way debate.  

We were disappointed that we could not take this discussion further. It was a missed opportunity to build community consensus around the biggest question. 

We believe Natural Feature Restoration should be the starting point for our First Decade Roadmap. It has the most potential to move the swell energy away from the cliffs, and we can always revert to Hybrid at any time. 

We ask the West Cliff implementation committee, as their first priority, to begin the investigation of these concepts through science and engineering evaluation and bring those findings to the community. 

There are two missing pieces to completing these analyses:

  • Accurate nearshore bathymetry adjacent to West Cliff Drive and 
  • a risk assessment model that can identify cliff erosion, sediment transport, and storm wave run up.  

We request the City pursue funding to complete these as soon as possible, with as much vigor as the one-way trial.

We support the Lighthouse Point Hazard Analysis and Engineering Study, and we ask that the Living Shorelines, Nature-Based Solutions, and Sand Management Feasibility Study include a public outreach component. 

We hope that there will be a thorough presentation to the Council in twelve months on these two studies and their findings.”


It has been said that “the best strategy is one that nobody likes in its entirety.”

We have come to understand that this is the nature of communities and compromise. 

During the last crazy month of engagement, discussion, and often heated debate, we found ourselves revisiting our original mission in times of crisis. 

We first outlined it in our email to members on Feb 20, 2023. 



Our goal is to recruit all the bright minds in Santa Cruz to join us. Let’s do everything we can to reach out to our neighbors, friends, and colleagues.


Help City leadership get our fair share of the Federal and State funding that’s coming. Aptos, Capitola, and other communities are already doing a great job of creating awareness with the public and government folks. We need to keep West Cliff at the top of the list.


Begin the discussions on how to create a shared vision for this place we love and help the City and County develop a long-term strategy and plan. We know there is a lot of interest and pent-up demand on this topic, but let’s get through the emergency first. Help the City and community deal with it, and then we can turn our attention to the big picture”

We sure have come a long way since those early days!

Over the past 15 months, we have:

  1. Recruited over 600 great minds to the mission (and thousands beyond that)
  2. Completed emergency repairs to the areas devastated by storms, and
  3. Helped deliver a 50-vision for West Cliff to the City Council.  

We thank you, members for joining us on this mission.

We also thank our partners in this mission.

None of this would have happened if you had not made a conscious choice to join the conversation and change the future. 

You are awesome; every one of you!


The Ad Hoc committee of the City Council and the West Cliff Implementation Committee with City Leadership and the City Council, will be completing the First Decade Roadmap over the next year or so. Activation and implementation will follow City Council approval of that roadmap.

We expect there will be many touch points for each of us to engage along the way.


So what is next for our community group? 

We are not quite sure. 

Save West Cliff has been more work than any of us expected. 

It’s been challenging, exhausting, and inspiring all at the same time. 

And it’s been worth every minute and dollar.

We are proud of our collective achievements, and we are stoked to look our kids and their future kids in the eye and say “we did something so they would have something”. 

And for that, we are truly grateful. 

As for how we sustain our collective efforts to steward West Cliff through the next five decades, we find ourselves asking a number of questions:

  • Where is the most effective home for this energy and passion we all feel for West Cliff?
  • Where does leadership come from and how does it evolve over the decades?
  • How do we make it inclusive of everyone in our community and visitors?
  • Should we expand the scope to include more of our coastline and other communities?
  • How can we learn from other movements that have had long-term success?
  • What are the most powerful models for long-term transformation in the face of climate change?

These are questions that need time and space. 

If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions, we would love to hear them. 

For now, we say thank you for the opportunity to work with you on this important project! 

Al, Hilary, Nik, Bob, Shaun

(With eternal gratitude to our favorite professor Gary Griggs and ex-mayor Donna Meyers)

Thank you,




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