Despite being neglected by the City of Encinitas, the Beacon’s Beach trail and parking lot have enabled the public to access to the beach for generations. In 2001 there was a landslide due to lack of maintenance and subsequent hillside erosion.
Many reasonable fixes were explored by City staff, but in 2017 The Surfrider Foundation’s lobbyists and litigators “convinced” the Encinitas City Council and Encinitas City staff to drop all such plans in favor of ones that conform with their ideology of Managed Retreat (MR).
To this end the City attempted to force the “Las Vegas Style Skybridge at Beacons Beach” on the community by bypassing mandatory environmental review, as per the California Environmental Quality Act, and going straight to the Planning Commission in order to rubber stamp their Surfrider plan.
MR advocates strive to prevent the maintenance of public and private coastal structures in order to accelerate erosion in the hope that they fall into irreversible disrepair.
When such parking lots, beach trails, homes, etc. are condemned for safety reasons they have achieved their goal of “returning the land to nature”. It is very ironic that the Encinitas City Hall is dug into a coastal hill and is supported by heavily fortified steel and concrete retaining walls on all sides. MR is akin to banning the fire department and all fire codes to ensure that as many houses as possible are burned to the ground and are “returned to nature” by wildfires.
The current plan for Beacon’s Beach is to relocate a new unreinforced “skinny” parking lot eastward to allow the purposefully neglected bluff to collapse onto the beach.
And to enable safe passage to the beach amid the “engineered coastal collapse” the City and Surfrider decided on the highly fortified $3.5 million cement and steel Vegas Skybridge.
The cost to the community to support the MR ideology will be to sacrifice around half of the Beacon’s Beach area parking by eliminating nine of the current parking lot spaces plus additional spaces on the west side of Neptune.
In addition, the new lot will be so narrow that traffic will be blocked every time someone tries to pull out their beach gear from the back of their vehicle.
Neptune will also become so narrow that cars, cyclists, and pedestrians will not be able to safely travel along the road at the same time. All this is evident in the City’s schematics and the fact that this area is already a narrow logjam.
The skinny lot is not only unsafe but it will preclude the elderly, families with small children, and the handicapped from being able to access the beach or simply watch a sunset from the bluff; as they will have to drive over 0.25 miles down Neptune or down to the railroad tracks to park.
The good news is that this nonsensical plan was soundly rejected by the community and the Planning Commission at the July meeting.
There are reasonable alternative approaches available to the City that will preserve the trail and parking access.
It is clear that the vast majority of stakeholders simply want room to park and to be able to walk to Beacon’s Beach on the beautiful trail without the looming specter of a Vegas Skybridge.
Please contact your elected representatives to let them know your thoughts, because some consider the current plan to be “a done deal.”
Charlie McDermott, Encinitas