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Breaking Waves on Developed Shores - Expect Change

Every day the waves break on the shore in San Diego. The swell direction conditions and size change.  Sea level and tides change as well. Sand moves, cliffs erode naturally and create more beach width while also depositing more sand. These changes and dynamics we expect. The unexpected is the change in shoreline due to development.  Seawalls, lagoon projects and seacave fills are the latest in a barrage of development that provides unexpected change

The last few months have been particularly busy with changes related to development.  Below is a list of projects we have been involved with over the last few months.

Goetz Seawall in Carlsbad 

A seawall was erected under an emergency permit at Terramar Beach.  The City of Carlsbad approved a permit after the emergency. Surfrider Foundation appealed the permit approval to the California Coastal Commission. The Staff Report from the Coastal Commission is recommending denial of the permit.

Quoting from the report

...the construction of the seawall will require both grading and fill on a coastal bluff, inconsistent with the City’s LCP. Additionally, the construction of the seawall will result in impacts to sand supply, and potential impacts to public access. As approved by the City, impacts to sand supply and public access were not mitigated appropriately, also inconsistent with the City’s LCP.

Commission staff recommends denial of the application on de novo. The proposed project will result in the adverse impacts described above. While the seawall has already been constructed pursuant to a emergency coastal development permit, the subject appeal is the result of a follow-up regular coastal development permit to the emergency permit issued by the City of Carlsbad in 2009. As previously stated, based on the provided geotechnical analysis, neither of the existing blufftop homes is currently threatened or in danger from erosion, instead, construction of the proposed seawall was approved on the basis of its finding that the seawall was required to protect people using the public beach. Such is not one of the basis for requiring approval of a seawall pursuant to the certified LCP; and, is therefore inconsistent with the applicable provisions of the City’s certified LCP as well as with the public access and recreation polices of the Coastal Act."

That about sums it up - except the applicant asked for a continuation and the hearing scheduled for November is postponed meaning this illegal beach damaging seawall remains for now.  You can write a letter to the Coastal Commission in the meantime asking them to remove it asap.

Coastal Commission

San Diego Coast District Office

Sherilyn Sarb, Deputy Director

Deborah Lee, District Manager

7575 Metropolitan Drive Ste 103

San Diego, CA 92108-4402
(619) 767-2370
FAX (619) 767-2384

Image at right from

Photography and website Copyright © 2002-2010 Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman - Adelman@Adelman.COM

Solana Beach Local Coastal Plan 

Solana Beach is one of the last city's in the entire state to have a certified Local Coastal Plan. We have been working hard to get one approved. The City withdrew its latest plan after getting a recommendation for approval with changes was scheduled for a hearing at the October Coastal Commission Meeting.   You can read the staff report for the City of Solana Beach LCP Land Use Plan.  We have spoken with the City and they assure us there are only a few issues to resolve to get this approved.  One of the sticky issues is that the City is letting public land be used for seawalls rent free.

Solana Beach - Bannasch Trust Seacave Infills. 

Solana Beach council approves concrete cave infills at Tabletops fronting Whale Rock.



"The seacaves, which stretch three to 19 feet into the bluff, were originally filled in 1991. The applicant, the Bannasch Family Trust, said direct wave attack has eroded the bluff further, endangering both the home and beachgoers who might wander into the caves. The caves will be filled with concrete that is colored to match the bluff, and the infills will be keyed into the rock."

"The property is deed restricted from having a seawall and the applicant stated there will be no new development at the site. But Surfrider Beach Preservation coordinator Jim Jaffee, a Solana Beach resident, brought up the “magnitude” of the infills and asked the question: “When does an infill become a seawall and when does a maintenance project turn into a new development?”

Jaffee pointed out that erosion can be a positive thing, leaving rock and reef formations and expanding the beach. Such maintenance as seawalls prevents these natural assets, he said.

“When they collapse you get beautiful things like Whale Rock that we all like to look at,” he said. “It got there because of bluff erosion.”"

This permit still needs to be heard at the Coastal Commission and you can bet we will be there.  The new development is twice the size of the existing development and will cover 92 feet of precious beach.  Interesting, when the property was designed in 1991, it was supposed to be designed for removal.  Here is what the Architect says....

" Bannasch Bluff Residence, Two-story plus Basement, 4,555 square feet, on the bluffs overlooking
the Pacific Ocean. The site was underlain by sea caves, which required grouting and was built on
caissons and grade beams at 525 Pacific Ave., Solana Beach.  Because of it's location, the Coastal
Commision required that it be designed to be relocated when bluff erosion becomes intrusive on it's
foundations. "