Feds, city wrangle over shore study

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is working to ensure a shoreline study to protect city beaches is completed.

A study was launched in 2016 to estimate the impacts of erosion to Oceanside’s shoreline after the construction of Camp Pendleton Harbor in 1942, and to explore solutions to mitigate erosion of city beaches.

The three-year study is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was promised to the city as a mitigation measure at no cost.

Things changed in October when the city was informed by the Corps that the study will be stalled due to a lack of federal funding. The Corps presented two options to move the study forward.

One discussed option is for the Corp to fully fund the study, but limit it to looking at mitigations to pre-construction conditions of Camp Pendleton Harbor.

“With this option, it will be more difficult to secure future funding, and there are no guarantees that our study will be a priority for the Corps,” Kiel Koger, city public works director, said.

The second option, and the one preferred by the Corps, is for the city to share 50 percent or more of the study costs and have the study analyze several ways to protect the shoreline.

“This option would increase the chances of an actual construction project being created in the future,” Koger said. “They also indicated that if there were a cost share, that the project would likely be a ‘higher priority’ for the Corps.”

The original study was set to look at potential increases to structure damage along the city shoreline caused by erosion and mitigation measures to reduce damage. It was also planned to explore practices to restore sand from coastal rivers and streams and replenish city beaches.

Depending on the option selected all or part of the original study will be completed.

The city asked for information on the two options be sent in writing following October talks.

“We requested a letter outlining the remaining costs and timeline to finish the project in mid-October,” Koger said. “We can’t move forward with a decision until that is received.”

Once information on cost sharing is received in writing, city staff will present both options to City Council.

“Staff wants to ensure that we know, ahead of time, what the city’s maximum contribution would be so that we avoid the problems we have had with the San Luis Rey River project,” city staff said.

The San Luis Rey River project is another operation overseen by the Corps that has had delays.

The project aims to remove built-up sediments from the San Luis Rey River to reduce flood risk. The city pre-paid $1.8 million to the Corps for its share of project costs.

Dredging was scheduled to begin in September 2016, but was delayed a year due to a needed permit.

This fall the city went to some lengths and costs to set up a bike trail detour for the project, and then heard the dredging would be postponed another two years due to federal funding limits.

Oceanside has requested reimbursement of its share of projects costs until work begins, and repayment of detour construction expenses. City staff has expressed frustration with ongoing project delays.

The city has been working with the Corps on different shoreline feasibility studies since 2000.

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