COAST CITIES — Public comments are now being accepted for a joint shoreline protection project between Encinitas, Solana Beach and the Army Corps of Engineers to help preserve the beach in those two North County cities.Shortly after being elected to their respective city councils in 1992, Jim Bond of Encinitas and Joe Kellejian from Solana Beach began working together to see if the federal government had any desire to become involved in local sand replenishment and protection, Bond said during a May 2 scoping meeting in Encinitas. An identical meeting was held that night in Solana Beach
“Initially there was no federal interest,” Bond said. “But eventually, in 1996, it looked like it was going to happen.
“We gleefully went into a feasibility study to see if we could do something to protect and preserve the shoreline for a whole host of good reasons,” he said. “People don’t come to Southern California to see our pristine desert.”
The proposed project area is divided into two segments. The first is a 2-mile stretch of beach in Encinitas from the 700 block of Neptune Avenue to Swami’s reef. The second includes the entire 1.7 miles of coastline in Solana Beach.
In the last several decades, the shorelines of both cities have experienced accelerated beach and bluff erosion, in part caused by El Niño conditions. Sand delivery from rivers has been significantly reduced due to damming for water storage projects and construction of highways, railroads and streets.
The cumulative effects of these natural and manmade events have caused severe erosion of the once-sandy beaches, according to literature handed out at the meetings. With reduced beaches, storm waves attack the bluff, creating failures and jeopardizing buildings, infrastructure and public safety.
Both cities and the Army Corps of Engineers are jointly preparing an environmental impact report and statement to assess project options for reducing erosion during a 50-year period from 2015 through 2065.
The EIR and EIS will analyze potential impacts and at least four alternatives. Initially, Encinitas would receive between 600,000 and 800,000 cubic yards of sand. Solana Beach would get 700,000 to 1,700,000 cubic yards.
Periodic renourishment with lower volumes of sand would take place incrementally throughout the project timeline.
There would be continuous monitoring to ensure no long-term damage to the area, including impacts to recreational uses such as surfing. Sand migration from the three lagoons in the project area will also be observed.
The proposed option would use offshore sand deposits, known as borrow sites, to put sand on the beaches.
A second alternative includes a mix of structural and non-structural measures. Existing notches and sea caves at the base of the bluffs would be filled with concrete to stabilize the lower bluff before sand from borrow sites is put on the beaches.
This option would result in narrower beaches and a reduced volume of deposited material.
Another alternative would be identical to the proposed option for Encinitas, however, Solana Beach would receive a reduced volume and attempts would be made to synchronize the renourishment cycles of both cities.
There is also a no-project alternative, which would likely result in shoreline protection devices being built as needed by individual property owners in both cities.
“We’d like to avoid piecemeal sea wall construction along the entire coast,” Leslea Meyerhoff, project manager for Solana Beach, said.
The major goals are to protect public and private structures along the bluffs, address public safety concerns and minimize biological impacts offshore. The project is similar to regional sand replenishment by the San Diego Association of Governments.
“We don’t have a natural supply of sand to the beaches,” Kathy Weldon, project manager for Encinitas, said. “If we don’t keep doing projects we will always be in a heavy erosion state. … We could do nothing and let (everything) fall into the ocean.”
Only a handful of people from both cities attended the scoping meetings. A notice of preparation, which formally initiates the public scoping and involvement process, was issued April 20. It is available on both city websites.
Comments must be received by Meyerhoff or Weldon in writing by May 21.
The three agencies hope to release the draft EIR and EIS for a 45-day review this fall. If all goes as scheduled, the plan is to have sand on the beaches beginning in 2015.