Last week was exciting for the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and for the health of our beaches. The Coastal Commission was in town, which happens only twice a year, and there were two items of particular interest to our chapter: Opportunistic Beach Nourishment in Oceanside and a proposal for the installation of “erodible” concrete in front of the Solana Beach Tennis Club.
Regarding the beach nourishment in Oceanside, our volunteers have been working with the city and Coastal Commission staff on this subject for the past few months. Our primary concerns were the negative impacts to surfing in the region following the larger beach nourishment project of RBSP II, proper surf monitoring, and correcting language that asserted impacts to surf in the past and future were likely to be positive.  We successfully advocated that the city place sand in two sites instead of one to help reduce impacts and that they increase surf monitoring pre and post project using the methodology from our surf monitoring study. During the week leading up to the hearing, we were still in discussions with Coastal Commission staff and the city of Oceanside. But the city agreed to all of our demands, the language in the permit regarding surf impacts was corrected, and the item was moved to the consent calendar; a win-win for all parties.
The second item, which was to install 100ft of “erodible” concrete in front of the Solana Beach Tennis Club (SBTC). Surfrider has been advocating against erodible concrete (until it can be proven to work that is) for years now. The debate over erodible concrete started with the Bannasch project (also in Solana Beach) which was eventually approved in June of 2014, only after very specific conditions were added. However, that project has not been installed yet because the applicant does not want to comply with those conditions. The SBTC application to fill seacaves with erodible concrete was the second project to come through, following Bannasch. Our stance is that this material should be proven to erode as it is expected to, prior to installation. Calling it “erodible” does not make it erodible, and our successful litigation on the subject in 2003 supported that there is not enough information yet to prove that it will be “erodible”. As Commission staff has been trying to find a path forward and a compromise, they suggested two additional conditions (in addition to those applied to the Bannasch project), but the applicant did not want to comply with those either. At the end of the day, in what was a 8-3 vote but later became a 9-2 vote, the Commission wisely recognized that the applicant must prove that the material will erode prior to installation; and if they are allowed to install any of this material and it does not perform as expected, it must be removed. We are thrilled that the Commissioners decided to hold the applicants accountable and protected precious coastal resources.  You can watch the hearing online here (Jan 14th, item 18b starts at 4:50) if you are interested.