SOLANA BEACH — The fate of a joint project between Encinitas, Solana Beach and the Army Corps of Engineers that has been in the works for more than 10 years will be decided by the end of 2013, according to an update provided during the April 10 Solana Beach City Council meeting.
“It will come to a conclusion this year … whether the feasibility plan is approved or not,” City Manager David Ott said.
The goal of the Solana Beach-Encinitas Coastal Storm Damage Project is to reduce damage to more than eight miles of beach beginning at the mouth of Batiquitos Lagoon in Encinitas and stretching south to include the entire 1.7-mile Solana Beach coastline except an area north of Tide Park.
The plan is to use sand from offshore borrow sites to renourish the beaches on a regular cycle for 50 years starting in 2015.
The Army Corps of Engineers studied several alternatives that included submerged breakwaters, artificial reefs, sea walls, sand replacement, filling the notches at the base of the bluffs and a hybrid of the latter two.
The tentatively recommended plan for Encinitas is to replace 100 feet of beach every five years using a total of 680,000 cubic yards of sand.
Solana Beach would receive 200 feet of sand every 13 years using 960,000 cubic yards.
Public hearings in both cities were held in February and public review of a draft environmental impact report concluded in March.
Project cost before implementation is estimated to be almost $8.2 million. The state Department of Boating and Waterways has been the cities’ financial partner in this project, assisting them in meeting their 50 percent cost share requirement.
In addition to each city providing more than $1 million of in-kind contributions of staff time and other resources since 2004, Solana Beach has spent several thousand dollars in the past 12 years on consultants and lobbyists to secure millions of dollars in federal and state funds, Ott said.
The next steps are to prepare responses to comments and release the final EIR, perhaps in June, and then meet with the Civil Works Review Board in Washington, D.C., to present any changes.
More public meetings are tentatively planned for June and August. Assuming approval by both cities, the chief of engineers report is expected in September and the Army Corps of Engineers decision in November or December.
At the April 10 meeting, council members approved a $147,000 request from the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the feasibility study. The money will come from the city’s transient occupancy tax sand funds.
A funding request for reimbursement has been submitted to the state, but a response had not been received as of the April 10 meeting.
Encinitas is scheduled to vote on its payment of the same amount at the April 24 meeting.
While he supports the project, Councilman Tom Campbell said there is no guarantee the project will come to fruition even with approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.
“I’m not necessarily advocating to throw in the towel,” he said. “We just need to have a clear understanding of what this is.
“Just because we get an approved project doesn’t mean we’re going to get funded,” he added. “That’s the real craps shoot here.”
If approved, an estimate for the largest project option is somewhere in the $40 million to $50 million range, according to Ott. The smallest project option for Solana Beach is approximately $15 million, he added.