On May 8 at 6 p.m., at the Encinitas City Hall, the Encinitas City Council will consider the Army Corps of Engineer’s proposed sand replenishment project for the next 50 years along the Encinitas shoreline.
If our council fails to support that 50-year beach nourishment project for our city beaches, we are unlikely to ever have that opportunity again to preserve our beaches.
For more than a decade the Army Corps of Engineers has been working with the cities of Encinitas and Solana Beach on a sand replenishment project that would extend for 50 years from 2015 to 2065. To date, the cost of the Army Corps project in actual expenditures and staff time exceeds $8 million. In terms of actual out-of-pocket costs the Army Corps has covered the majority of those expenses to the tune of over $4 million. The state of California has contributed approximately $3 million and the city of Encinitas, approximately $200,000.
Following an exhaustive study of all aspects of this project, including its marine, environmental, surf sports and economic impacts, the Army Corps is now seeking the approval of the Encinitas City Council to move forward with placing this half-century project in the queue for federal funding in the future. The City Council’s approval of the project will not constitute its approval of any specific sand replenishment project, but rather our city’s support of the overall concept for a 50 year plan of Army Corps sand re-nourishment for our beaches.
Alternative EN-1A, which the Army Corps is recommending, would include an initial placement of between 680,000 to 730,000 cubic-yards of sand on our beaches. That should be compared with the 288,000 cubic-yards of sand deposited by SANDAG at the end of last year on our Encinitas beaches, from our city’s northern boundary through Restaurant Row in Cardiff.
Under the Army Corps’ preferred alternative EN-1A, the sand would be replenished every five years for the next 50 years. The Army Corps’ project study indicates that this replenishment cycle would result in 100-foot wide additions to the mean sea level width of our beaches that we are experiencing today.
The benefits of this project will include, but not be limited to, the following:
* The program will create wide and beautiful sandy beaches. This will be of great benefit to the residents, visitors and businesses of our wonderful city.
* The beach will be accessible and walkable at all times, not just at low tides.
* The wider beaches will protect public improvements such as Coast Highway 101 in Cardiff and our various public beach access structures.
* Surf breaks should be improved by virtue of restoring a wider shore platform and shifting sand bottom on which waves can break and then peel. Swimming opportunities should also be improved by the wider shallow shore waters.
* The enhanced recreational opportunities for our beaches will result in higher revenues for the city. This will be driven by increased business activity and improved property values. Without sand on our beaches, the economic impact on our city will be devastating.
* Wider beaches will permit beachgoers to stay further away from unstable bluffs thereby enhancing public and lifeguard safety.
* With the Army Corps of Engineers providing our city access to federal funding for the sand replenishment, the city will be in a position to use its funds for other important public purposes.
* Wide sandy beaches will greatly reduce, and hopefully eliminate, marine erosion and wave attacks at the base of our coastal bluffs, thus reducing the need for, and size of, bluff retention devices.
Have we learned from the past?
Residents that have been here for over 30 years remember the terrible beach impacts of the El Niño events in the early 1980s. They remember that following those huge wave impacts and beach scouring, we had no beaches. We had piles of cobblestone and ankle cracking exposed reefs.
It took our local beaches years to recover and we are still not back to the sand levels that we enjoyed in the 1970s. Now, thanks to the long-term vision of our past city councils that supported this long developing Army Corps project, we have an unprecedented, and probably once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity. On May 8 our City Council has the chance to obtain 50 years of protection for our city’s most valuable asset; our magnificent beaches.
On that evening, by voting to support the Army Corps’ preferred Alternative EN-1A, our City Council will have the extraordinary opportunity to preserve our beaches, not only for us and our children, but also for our grandchildren.
On May 8 at 6 p.m., at the Encinitas City Hall, please join us in urging the Encinitas City Council to approve the proposed Army Corps beach sand replenishment project.
Charles Marvin III is an Encinitas resident.