Position Statement (July 2014)
The City of Encinitas is considering their options to address the erosion that is taking place at Beacons.
Beach access and coastal preservation are equally important to Surfrider, and when those core values are potentially in conflict, as with this situation, we prefer the least environmentally damaging alternative be pursued, such as building stairs.
In 2003, the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation asked the City of Encinitas to pursue alternatives to the proposed seawall to improve access to Beacons. The City produced a Draft EIR that said the impacts of the seawall would block access to the beach and impact recreation. Even worse, they neglected to follow the General Plan of Leucadia State Beach, home of Beacons, in proposing the seawall as the primary alternative. This is in direct contradiction to General Plan policies which state “Seawalls shall not be constructed on the State Beach” and “The state owned cliff-faces at Leucadia State Beach shall not be fortified with retaining walls.”
It would be ill-advised under such circumstances to recommend alternatives that require a statement of overriding considerations such as the seawall alternative. The environmentally superior alternative with stairs should be further refined and studied. In 2003 the City stated that soft solutions could garner the state funding required to improve Beacon’s Beach yet no effort has been made to pursue such an alternative in earnest.
Our Chapter will continue to advocate for a solution which supports access but does not interrupt natural coastal processes. We believe this issue can be broken into 3 parts: (beach, access and parking).
Beach: What is best for the beach we are trying to protect? Not a seawall! Landslides are a natural part of coastal processes, and in fact nourish the beach below. Via the process of erosion, additional beach space is created. Seawalls are detrimental to the health of the beach because by fixing the back of the beach you cut off a very necessary source of sand, and by stopping the natural migration of the bluff landward, as sea level rises the beach in front of the wall is eventually lost and flooded with water instead of having an area of either sand, rock shelf or cobbles.
Access: We believe that access can be maintained with softer alternatives than a seawall. Perhaps a staircase supported by caissons is a compromise that will keep everyone happy. Look at other examples where stairs have continued to allow access such as Swami’s and Grandview. Access should be provided with the least amount of impact as possible.
Parking: Currently there are approximately 25 parking spots in the Beacon’s parking lot and about 8 spots that line the lot along the street. Perhaps the spots along the street could be transformed into angled spots, and the current parking lot could be reduced in size. There are numerous ways the parking can be reconfigured or relocated to help preserve access, and allow for preferred alternatives that do not destroy the bluffs such as a staircase. Various access points in the area have achieved this balance.
General Statement: Surfrider San Diego is opposed to any amendment to the State Parks General Plan that would allow for construction of seawalls on State Parks property. We are in favor of a staircase (similar to the one at Swami’s), which does not require a seawall.