Surfrider Foundation to host seawall tour

Surfrider Foundation to host seawall tour
The Surfrider Foundation will lead a walking tour of seawalls in Encinitas Monday at 12:30 p.m. File photo

ENCINITAS — With the Supreme Court poised to weigh in on the state Coastal Commission’s the authority to impose time limits on privately erected seawalls along the state’s coastline, an environmental group is set to host a tour aimed at educating the public about what it believes are the negative side effects of the private barriers.

The state Coastal Commission is set on Monday to submit to the state Supreme Court its legal brief in the matter of Lynch vs the California Coastal Commission, eight months after the state Court of Appeal voted to overturn a lower court’s ruling that the state commission overstepped its bounds when it required two Encinitas homeowners to reapply for a seawall permit after 20 years.

The homeowners, Barbara Lynch and Thomas Frick, successfully petitioned the state’s high court for a judicial review in a case that will have implications up and down California’s coastline.

The San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is hosting a walking tour at 12:30 p.m. Monday during which they will explain the lawsuit and its implications on coastline, public beach access and recreation opportunities.

“Man-made seawalls diminish public coastal access, limiting residents and tourists from experiencing one of San Diego’s most fundamental draws — the beach,” according to a Surfrider news release.  “The controversy over the Lynch seawall in Encinitas … has the potential to set a precedent for future seawalls throughout San Diego County.”

During the half-mile guided tour, foundation officials said they will explain the impacts of unregulated seawalls and explain the case and its implications.

Supporters of seawalls have argued that the private man-made barriers protect coastline homes from the effects of soil erosion and that the commission’s imposition of the 20-year-clause — as well as the denial of a permit to rebuild a private staircase — amounted to a state takeaway of private property rights.

The families were applying for a permit to build a 100-foot-tall, state-of-the-art concrete seawall to replace their aging wooden one and rebuild the private staircase from their homes to the beach below, after storms in 2010 largely wiped out both structures.

The city of Encinitas approved their applications, but the Coastal Commission stepped in and denied the permit for the staircase and would only allow the families to rebuild the wall with the 20-year stipulation, to which the families agreed.

The Surfrider tour will begin at the Grandview parking lot at 1690 Neptune Avenue.

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