Anderson, R.B.; Carter, O.T.; Pearce, K.G., and Capdevila, L.A., 2022. User perceptions of the Pleasure Point seawall in Santa Cruz county, California, U.S.A. Journal of Coastal Research, 38(4), 828–843. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Communities up and down the California coast face the looming threat of rising seas, coastal erosion, and shoreline retreat. In this paper, the researchers use anthropological methods and a user survey to explore the social dimensions of the Pleasure Point seawall to assess some of the longer-term implications of coastal armoring in California and the U.S. more broadly. The users surveyed had an overall positive to neutral opinion of a coastal retention structure (in this case a seawall). About 35% had positive opinions of the seawall, 30% had neutral opinions, and 18% had negative opinions. While these results trend positive to neutral, they also reveal divided community opinions about and experiences with the seawall. The open-ended portions of the survey, combined with participant observation and follow-up interviews, add another qualitative dimension to this data. The participants in the survey and research expressed concerns about engineering and ecological issues, whether questions about how long the structure will last or observations/opinions about its impacts on local surf conditions, backwash, and loss of beach sand. Participants also expressed concerns about the social impacts of the seawall, including access issues, crowds, growing risks, problems with increasing numbers of inexperienced users, tourism growth, and fears about gentrification and local displacement. Combined, these insights illustrate how seawalls and other coastal armoring structures can and should be understood as engineered structures with critical social impacts that intersect with their physical, material, and environmental impacts.