The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 yesterday to write a letter requesting that state leaders support proposed legislation to make building a seawall in San Diego and Orange Counties much easier by drastically weakening the permitting review process.

While public participation in meetings in this virtual-focused time is not easy, 30 members of the public; including Surfrider members, scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, as well as inland and coastal residents voiced their opposition to this move via the board’s ‘e-commenting system.’ Only one member of the  public commented in support of the decision.

The letter below, addressed to the board members in advance of the May 19 meeting, details some of our concerns about California Senate Bill No. 1090.

Put simply, Surfrider has been opposing seawalls, both locally and nationally, for years. Seawalls suck. They suck because when a property owner builds one in front of their home to protect it from storm surge and erosion, the structure itself accelerates erosion down the beach. This causes a domino effect where everyone rushes to get their own seawall – the end result being accelerated erosion that causes our sandy beaches to narrow and disappear.

What seawalls do not do, is serve as a reasonable public safety mechanism along San Diego’s coastline. SB-1090 proposes that seawall permitting should be fast-tracked in the name of public safety, even though the Coastal Commission has made it very clear that seawalls do not provide a quantifiable public safety benefit. If we line all of San Diego’s beaches with seawalls, our sandy shores will be a distant memory. A beach backed by a seawall will eventually disappear on an eroding coastline, especially one undergoing accelerated sea level rise. A destroyed beach is not a safer beach. To paraphrase The Eagles, ‘you can’t save paradise when you are kissing it goodbye.’

Planning for equitable solutions to preserve beaches and keep them safe requires multiple policies and phased approaches and progress is being made in this effort throughout California. SB-1090 would have us lock ourselves into the one method we know is sure to fail and will accelerate the loss of our beaches.Among other things, SB-1090 paves over sections of the Coastal Act, strips the California Coastal Commission of important authorities, and only requires a one-time mitigation fee for seawalls to compensate for their impacts; which are much more significant and substantial than this fee provides.

Seawalls privatize benefits for homeowners at the cost of the public beach, begging the question — who exactly are seawalls for? And who exactly is this bill for? Once you’ve mulled this question over…please help us oppose this bill at the state level by signing onto our action alert.

Surfrider BOS FinalOppositionLetter SB1090