OCEANSIDE — A new group has formed to help spread awareness about the need to save sand and build support for installing groins along the city’s beaches.
The group, called !S.O.S.Oceanside!, wants to work with local, regional and state authorities to encourage the city of Oceanside to design and construct groins to protect the city’s beaches from sand erosion.
Groins, as the group explains on its website, are short, narrow structures similar to jetties that are built at the water’s edge to prevent coastal erosion of sand.
Nick Ricci, one of the group’s board members, said sand moves in a southerly direction along the West Coast. The problem with Oceanside is that although it has a lot of sand to give its southern neighbors, he explained, it isn’t receiving sand from the north because of the jetty at Del Mar Beach. It also isn’t receiving sand from the San Luis Rey River, which is dammed at Lake Henshaw.
“That’s the big concern by the Coastal Commission is that (groins) would starve sand from people,” Ricci said. “But we don’t get any sand replenishment here at all except when they dredge the harbor.”
The city will take sand from the harbor and use it on its beaches, but Ricci said that’s a “very short-term fix.”
Other issues with Oceanside’s depleting sand may come from climate change and storm surge, but Ricci said the group isn’t sure how much that is affecting sand erosion, especially considering other neighboring city’s beaches are just fine on sand supply.
But things are for sure changing at Oceanside’s beaches. At Wisconsin Avenue, the only time the beach is visible is during low tide around 6 a.m., Ricci said. That sand is wet, however, and not a great place for people to stick around.
“I’m here every day and I’ve seen how it’s changed,” Ricci said. “Just a few years ago this was a beach … lifeguard vehicles could drive all the way from the pier all the way down to Buccaneer.”
The group often refers to Newport Beach, which has had groins since the late 1960s, as an example of how installing groins in Oceanside could help. They also wouldn’t starve beaches to the south, Ricci explained, because as sand builds up at groins some starts to slip away.
According to Ricci, the group would like to see a series of groins installed in groupings of five at Tyson Street, Wisconsin Avenue, Oceanside Boulevard, Buccaneer Beach and Saint Malo Beach. The groins would be made out of rocks and extend out into the water about 100 yards, would be between 8 feet and 10 feet tall and about 10 feet to 12 feet wide.
“They aren’t pretty, but that’s not the point,” Ricci said. “The point is to protect the beach.”
If the beaches can be reclaimed, properties like the ones that sit along Pacific Street near Wisconsin Avenue could be saved, he said.
Dirk Ackema, another board member of !S.O.S.Oceanside!, said installing the groins could also serve as a research protect for other neighboring coastal cities.
“We want to save and protect our beaches, but there are so many other coastal communities that would benefit from the research and information that would be derived from these groins in Oceanside and how they work,” Ackema said.
Ackema said Oceanside could be a leader in beach restoration by installing these groins.
“We’ve seen in Newport Beach how well they work and it’s been impressive,” he said. “We’re hoping to get the same results.”
Many surfers in Oceanside are also interested in having groins installed along the city’s beaches. There has been some word that surfers don’t want the groins, but Jamey Stone, who has been surfing in Oceanside for decades now, said it’s “completely opposite.”
Stone is the president of the Oceanside Boardriders Club, a new group that formed to give a collective voice to the city’s surfers. The group has ballooned to more than 80 members since it was formed about a month ago, Stone said, and has endorsed !S.O.S.Oceanside!’s mission to install groins along the coast.
“We’ve got all this beautiful sand and we’re known as one of the most consistent surf places,” he said. “It brings a lot of tourism here and we need these groins to protect the sand and create surf.”
Ricci, Ackema and Stone said the groins in Newport Beach helped to improve the surf there, making it more consistent. They hope to see the same thing happen in Oceanside.
Ricci said he hopes the city will embrace the idea of installing groins along its beaches, but knows it will a “big fight” to convince the California Coastal Commission.
“We just can’t sit around and keep on pumping sand,” he said.
Above: This ramp goes down to the water at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Pacific Street in Oceanside. According to Nick Ricci, board member of !S.O.S.Oceanside!, it used to lead to a beach. Photo by Samantha Taylor