ENCINITAS — City Council approved a proposal to receive sand at Moonlight Beach from a private construction site. The council voted unanimously, with Councilman Jerome Stocks absent, at its meeting Jan. 27.
Kathy Weldon, a program manager for the city, told the council that 16,000 cubic yards of excavated sand would come from the constriction site of a parking structure at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas.
A sampling of the sand was analyzed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency and approved for intertidal zone placement according to Weldon. The sand will be placed directly in the water at Moonlight Beach between A and C streets.
The effort is scheduled to get under way in early February and must be completed by March 15. The narrow time frame is dictated by the various regional, state and federal agencies involved in the Sand Compatibility Opportunistic Use Program. The five-year sediment management initiative allows for a process of identifying and analyzing sand from construction sites to be placed on a pre-determined beach.
“Scripps has been a great partner,” Weldon said. “They were going to have to take the sand somewhere so this worked out well for both the city and the hospital,” she said. While the hospital is prepared to excavate 20,000 cubic yards of sand, not all of the material is deemed acceptable for sand replenishment Weldon said.
The three-story parking structure is the first phase of a 15-year construction project to expand the hospital located on Santa Fe Drive just west of Interstate 5. The master plan also calls for an expanded emergency department and medical office space.
Julie Lee, a marketing director for the hospital, told the council that Scripps is committed to making the sand replenishment project happen within the narrow window of opportunity.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth said the program is a “win-win” situation. “This gives Scripps an opportunity to dispose of their sand while the city residents and visitors benefit from the outcome,” she said after the meeting.
A similar partnership that brought approximately 37,000 cubic yards of construction sand from the Pacific Station development to Ponto State Beach last year drew both praise and criticism. City officials and some residents lauded the sand replenishment effort while others remained skeptical of dumping sand into the intertidal zone.
The cost of the effort was shared by both parties according to Weldon. The city is responsible for the state and federal permits and monitoring while the hospital pays for the cost to haul and dump the sand. Scripps also paid for the initial sampling and analysis costs. Weldon said she estimated the city’s cost to be approximately $100,000, including her time and labor expenses.
Public access to Moonlight Beach will be restricted during the sand dumping. Trucks will make approximately 100 to 150 trips per day, Monday through Friday beginning at 7:30 a.m. The public will still have access to Moonlight Beach via D Street and the south end of the beach. Restricted areas include the pathway between the restrooms and the snack stand, the handicap access and the north end of Moonlight Beach.