DEL MAR — In the aftermath of an April 21 bluff collapse on Jimmy Durante Boulevard, the city approved an emergency contract with Southland Paving, Inc. to implement a temporary repair to the area during a May 6 City Council meeting.
The impacted northbound Jimmy Durante Boulevard remains closed, with traffic being diverted to Camino Del Mar. The roadway is currently covered with sand and debris, as contractors finish up the process of removing loose material from the area. According to the staff report, removal and grading will make way for a more permanent repair in the future.
The traffic delays and continued concern over coastal bluff instability have provoked some ire locally, with many begging the question — how did this happen?
Although the answers aren’t clear, resident and architect Dean Meredith took to public comment at the May 6 meeting to assert that the construction of his new home on Seaview Avenue — just south of the collapse — was not the cause.
Shortly after the bluff failure, 10News interviewed local geologist Pat Abbott to assess how the bluff might have collapsed. He pointed to this year’s heavy rainfall and irrigation from blufftop properties — common culprits of area collapses. But he also added that the bluff could’ve taken a hit from the construction of Meredith’s new home on an adjacent property.
His statement carried over to social media platforms such as NextDoor — where neighbors conducted a back-and-forth on the potential causes of the collapse.
Abbott spoke at the council meeting to apologize for the statement, which he called “speculation.”
“The new house there is … not responsible in any way, shape or form for the bluff failure,” he said.
According to Meredith, Abbott’s statement damaged his career as an architect and left him and his wife, Monica Meredith, at the mercy of social media tirades.
Leslie Reed, whose geotechnical engineering company conducted services for the Merediths’ home, said he hoped the city’s response would “help alleviate somewhat the firestorm of negative response,” referring to the social media response and hate mail received by the Merediths.
City Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland and Mayor Dave Druker highlighted the importance of communication and information-distribution during what Druker called “a major emergency.”
Druker said he felt City Council was “left in the dark somewhat” by city staff.
“It’s somewhat humiliating … to tell people I know nothing beyond the road’s closed and we’re looking at it,” he said. “That in turn reinforces people’s mistrust and distrust of the government.”
The staff report did not outline a timeline for the project, but Druker said the clean-up will take a few more weeks to get resolved.
The total costs of the fix are yet to be determined, but the city-approved contract was for $660,000 — to be paid out of the general fund reserves until the city comes back and “eventually figure(s) out how to pay for this.”
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.