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Surfrider continues the fight to protect our coastal bluffs

As part of our Beach Preservation Policy, we oppose the permanent use of Public Trust or Park Land to build seawalls and other such structures. Seawalls and other structures built on a naturally eroding coastline subject to sea level rise will destroy recreational access and the nearshore environment.

In Solana Beach, seawalls are quickly and unfortunately becoming the norm - if we continue on our current trajectory, the whole coast of Solana Beach will be armored with seawalls. Any resident of Solana Beach who wants to build a seawall or Shoreline Protection Device (SPD) must apply for a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) from the California Coastal Commission (CCC). While residents pay for the actual construction of the seawalls, in Solana Beach they are usually building these seawalls on PUBLIC land, without just compensation to the city or the beach-going public most of the time.

We are in the process of opposing yet another Coastal Development Permit application in Solana Beach. The applicant wants to vastly expand a sea-cave infill to protect a home on the bluff's edge. However, as this home was built in the 1990s, under the Coastal Act (CA's landmark environmental legislation restricting development on the coastline), this home does not have the right to built a seawall. We are opposed to the Permit application for the following reasons:

  1. Project alternatives do not include moving the house back from the bluff’s edge, even though the house was explicitly designed to be moved if it was ever threatened by erosion.
  2. Seacave and notch infills fix the back of the beach, halting the natural erosion of the bluffs. When seacaves and notches are filled, the bluff line is moved seaward relative to the natural bluffs. Infills prevent replenishing sand from reaching the beach via erosion as opposed to unprotected bluffs that continue to erode and create beach space. Because of the passive erosion impact caused by fixing the back of the beach, and the infills encroachments on City and State Lands, the CDP should also be subject to land lease and recreation fees, as well as sand replenishment fees.
  3. “Erodible concrete” is a myth with no data to support the claim that it erodes at the same rate as the bluff. Erodible concrete lacks scientific evidence of erodibility. Without any evidence of seacave infill erodibility, the CDP should be subject to an encroachment removal agreement.
  4. The proposed expansion of the seacave infills goes beyond simple maintenance, and is creating a de facto seawall, which is not permitted by the property’s deed restriction
  5. The CDP applicants have not demonstrated good faith in the past when working with Solana Beach and the Coastal Commission. Encroachment removal agreements should be required and specific guidelines set to ensure that if and when the seacave infills do not erode as hypothesized, the applicants will need to remedy the situation.
  6. By allowing such a large expansion beyond simple maintenance of seacave infills, the Commission is setting a bad precedent that contributes to a pattern and practice of allowing for armoring of the entire coast especially in Solana Beach.

Watch this quick video to see how "erodible concrete" is a myth:

We will be discussing this topic at our upcoming Beach Preservation Committee meeting - Monday March 31, 6:30 pm. Hope to see you there!

You can read the full text of the letter we submitted to the Coastal Commission here.