City discusses beach sand retention action

OCEANSIDE — Kevin Byrne, Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee member, said beach sand erosion has reached a crisis level. 

Five vertical feet of sand have been lost from Oceanside beaches this year.

Up until this point the federal government has acknowledged responsibility for Oceanside beach sand erosion due to the Camp Pendleton harbor and jetty being built in 1942 and disrupting the southerly flow of sand to Oceanside beaches.

By 1990 the Army Corps of Engineers began dredging Oceanside Harbor and pumping 120,000 cubic yards of sand onto Oceanside beaches annually as an initial measure to remedy the problem.

Further phases of a permanent solution to keep sand on the beach have not been implemented due to a lack of funds.

Byrne addressed City Council on Oct. 16 and said before more sand washes away there is an immediate need for the city to find a sound temporary solution to retain sand, and maximize sand replenishing efforts.

“We need to be proactive locally,” Byrne said. “There are a lot of things we can do. We can develop a fund just for the sand nourishment project and slowly build that fund up. It has to be local.”

Oceanside has the unique situation of roads and homes sitting at sea level along the beachfront. Continued sand loss would damage infrastructure and property.

Last year annual sand replenishment efforts were delayed due to an unexpected grunion run. Sand was put on the beaches during winter and half of that sand quickly washed away.

“The problem was they scheduled the contractor to do the dredging at the wrong time of year,” Byrne said. “They placed sand on the beach during the worse winter storm we ever had.”

Byrne said the key is to synchronize future efforts, to ensure Coastal Commission approval, and the timing of sand replenishment and retention efforts, are fruitful.

City Council discussed spending $30,000 to have Nobel Consultants update their 1980 engineering study to determine possible sand retention solutions on Oct. 16.

The discussion brought up concerns about the effects groins have on the surf breaks, environmental impacts, and the cost of a permanent solution.

“Spending $30,000 is going to be a waste,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “The

solution would cost so much we wouldn’t be able to touch it without state and federal funds.”

Sand is staying put on Harbor Beach, which is sheltered between two jetties, but permanent groins and jetties are frowned upon because of their environmental impacts.

“I’m opposed to the placement of a sand retention device,” Carolyn Krammer, cofounder of Citizens for the Preservation of Parks and Beaches, said. “We made that mistake at Oceanside Harbor. It changed the ways the waves broke, and the sandbars. It’s in violation of the Coastal Act.”

Many of the comments focused on the 1980s studies Nobel Consultants conducted in Oceanside, and did not address the benefits of re-evaluating the problem and finding an interim solution to retain beach sand for a longer period of time.

“I don’t think tonight’s discussion is going where we need to,” Councilman Jack Feller said. “There’s not much of a beach and we don’t have any sand on it. We need to see if we can come up with some approaches and see if there’s a cheaper way that doesn’t harm the surf action.”

Councilman Jerry Kern said a low cost temporary winter groin might help retain sand.

“I’m proposing we look at it all,” Kern said. “I don’t know what the study would turn up.”

Kern said the next step is to get the Coastal Commission, environmental groups, and other interested parties together to come to consensus on the best temporary solution to try.

Byrne said he would like to get the conversation started and have Nobel Consultants and other engineers recommend next low cost, temporary steps Oceanside could take to safeguard sand on its beaches. Then the Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee could bring suggestions to City Council to consider.

A date for information to be presented to the Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee is not set.

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  1. Mark says:

    What is a “low cost temporary winter groin”?? There’s no such thing. Groins are large, made of boulders and designed to be permanent. Anything that would be effective would never be able to be removed. Besides that, you’d never get permission from the Coastal Commission. And rightly so.

    We should be focusing on getting a substantial amount of sand (like last year’s SANDAG project) as a temporary fix for the critical areas, and then focus on prioritizing areas where infrastructure can be pulled back from the eroding shoreline for the long term. Oceanside is the only SD city that has homes and structures built seaward of the coastal bluff. They should have never been allowed there.

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