REGION — Tragedy struck six months ago on Aug. 2, 2019, when three people were killed in a bluff collapse at Grandview Beach in Encinitas.
Those three people were Julie Davis, Anne Clave and Elizabeth Cox, the wife, daughter and sister-in-law, respectively, of Dr. Pat Davis of Encinitas.
On Feb. 4, Davis attended President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address as the guest of Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano). Together, Davis and Levin hope to emphasize the importance of funding projects that will replenish the coast’s sand and make it safer for beachgoers to prevent any more deaths from happening.
Levin has been pushing for funding for such a project since before the Aug. 2 bluff collapse. On July 31, days before the collapse occurred, Levin wrote to the commanding general and chief of engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting federal funding for the Solana Beach-Encinitas Coastal Shore Protection Project, also known as the San Diego County Shore Protection Project.
Congress authorized the project in 2016 with a primary purpose of stabilizing tall coastal bluffs that are eroding due to high-energy storm swells. The erosion of these bluffs, according to Levin’s office, pose threats to life, safety, property and infrastructure like the rail corridor that runs along the coast.
On Dec. 20, Trump signed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, which included $905,000 in federal funding for the planning, engineering and design (PED) phase of the project. An additional $4,000,000 was included for shore protection investigations.
“Now we have to ensure that money gets spent without delay and that we move on with the actual replenishment,” Levin said.
An estimated $30 million will be needed to fund sand replenishment for the next five years, according to Levin. The federal government would pay for 65% of that amount with the remaining 35% to be funded through state and local resources.
The project will span over 50 years. Every five years, more funding will need to be requested to continue the replenishment project for that long. After the initial five years, the federal government will be responsible for 50% of the cost to be matched by state and local dollars.
Levin said sand replenishment is not the only thing that needs to happen in order to better protect the coastline. More solutions will be needed to address issues caused by “the more several impacts of climate change that have exacerbated the risks associated with living next to the coast.”
Levin invited Davis as his guest to the State of the Union so that the two of them could highlight the need to address these issues.
“After the accident, Congressman Levin reached out to me and expressed his empathy and his plans to make the beaches a lot safer,” Davis said. “I was more than happy to jump on board with him and do anything I could to raise awareness about the terrible bluff situation in Encinitas and Solana Beach.”
Besides sand replenishment, Davis said he would like to see city and state officials come together and find solutions that will create safe zones on beaches, especially where staircases are built and near lifeguard towers.