Sunday November 15 will feature two special photo opportunities at Cesar Chavez Park. At 11:00 a.m., a King Tide of 7.36 feet will flood the gap in the seawall along Marina Boulevard and inundate the pedestrian and bicycle trail. Then at 4:57 p.m. the sun will set in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge as viewed from the shore next to the parking circle at the end of Spinnaker Way, weather permitting.
The King Tide has been flooding the pedestrian walkway since at least 2012, when I first photographed it. This has little or nothing to do with sea level rise due to climate change. It has to do with City negligence in filling up the gap in the seawall there. The gap is about five feet wide — I’ve seen kids jump across it — and could be filled by one or two pickup truck loads of rocks and gravel. But neither the Parks Department nor Public Works, which have the responsibility and the ability to fix this problem, care enough about pedestrians and bicyclists to make this quick and easy repair. Around the corner along the Virginia Street Extension (the dirt road that runs along the south side of the cove) there are two other gaps, even smaller and easier to fix, that are in the bailiwick of the East Bay Regional Parks District. It looks like the Parks bureaucrats don’t ever walk there and don’t look at the photos of the huge lake that completely blocks the dirt road at high water. King Tides are an opportunity to take stock of how well our government is doing in protecting the land and adapting to climate change. At these two locations, the grade is F. If they can’t stop flooding during a regularly scheduled high tide, how will they ever cope with the future when this water level is the new normal?
On the bright side, sunset out by the parking circle is a photographer’s feast. Sunsets are always a favorite subject there, often showing great variety and drama. One of the most prized shots is of the sun setting in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge. It will happen here on Sunday evening if the weather cooperates. The initial forecast is “Sunny.” If the past is any guide, it’ll pay to get there early and grab a parking spot, as the occasion can draw a crowd of lens hounds. Remember to wear masks and practice social distancing.
If you miss the Sunday events, there’ll be a second King Tide, just slightly lower than Sunday’s (7.31 feet) at 11:42 a.m. on Monday, and the sunset on Monday at 4:56 p.m. should be just inches away from Sunday’s, and just as good or maybe better. Good luck.
By the way, just about an hour after the sun sets, the tide will bottom out. It’ll hit a low of minus 1.36 feet at 6 p.m. on Sunday and an even lower minus 1.69 feet at 6:46 p.m. on Monday. This means that in the space of about seven hours, the water level around Cesar Chavez Park will drop almost nine feet. That’s high environmental drama. All the birds, fishes, and creatures of the mud will experience something like a ride on a roller coaster.
And while we’re on climate change, a friend who follows the studies on sea level rise predicts that the whole Berkeley Marina will be underwater, except for Cesar Chavez Park, which will be an island. Good to know.
More photos of the sunset from Cesar Chavez Park.
More photos of the King Tide along Marina Boulevard and the Virginia Street Extension.