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Previous studies estimate Oceanside Harbor has caused a loss of up to 1.6-million cubic yards of sand volume from Oceanside beaches since 1942. Courtesy photo/US Army
Previous studies estimate Oceanside Harbor has caused a loss of up to 1.6-million cubic yards of sand volume from Oceanside beaches since 1942. Courtesy photo/US Army
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Oceanside selects design firms for sand retention project

OCEANSIDE — The city has announced three finalists in a design competition that will help determine how to acquire and retain sand on its nearly barren beaches.

Engineering firms from around the world were invited to participate in the Oceanside Coastal Resilience Design Competition, or RE:BEACH, in partnership with Resilient Cities Catalyst and GHD firms. A jury and advisory committee of local, state and national experts reviewed initial proposals before the city and project team chose the finalists based on experience, proposed approach and track record.

The finalists are SCAPE Landscape Architecture, a New York City-based landscape and urban design firm, with ESA and the Dredge Research Collaborative; Deltares with Deltares USA and MVRDV, a nonprofit Dutch firm that emphasizes sustainability through its projects; and International Coastal Management, an Australian firm that has previous coastal design experience and has worked for entities like SeaWorld.

The groups will design concepts that mitigate erosion from the compounding impacts of climate change, the Oceanside Harbor and nearby industrial development.

“We are thrilled with the interest and participation from global climate adaptation and coastal resilience experts and can’t wait to see what our finalists come up with as potential solutions over the coming months,” said Oceanside Coastal Zone Administrator Jayme Timberlake.

Much of Oceanside’s sand supply issues stem from the Oceanside Harbor, which includes both Camp Pendleton and the Oceanside Recreation and Small-Craft Harbors constructed in 1942 and 1963, respectively.

Although the harbors’ construction added over 5 million cubic yards of sand to city beaches between 1944 and 1982, the harbors have trapped much of the sand that is supposed to flow onto Oceanside beaches from the north, causing Oceanside beaches to remain in a constant state of erosion as its sand moves south.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, previous studies estimate that Oceanside Harbor has caused a 1.4 to 1.6-million cubic yard loss of sand volume from Oceanside beaches since 1942. Sand loss has caused the beaches south of Oceanside Harbor to retreat 6.6 feet per year in some areas.

Over the last few years, the city has been working on its Sand Nourishment and Retention Pilot Project to address its sand erosion problem. The project, currently in its second phase, has been controversial among coastal cities to the south, like Carlsbad, that don’t want Oceanside to install groins or other hard structures to keep sand from moving to the southerly beaches.

In January, the city paid GHD Inc. nearly $2.6 million from its American Rescue Plan Act funds for consultant services supporting the project’s second phase. GHD has been working with city staff along with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, which has been providing sand level monitoring through a partnership with local nonprofit Save Oceanside Sand, coastal engineering firm Moffatt and Nichol, and Resilient Cities Catalyst, a nonprofit helping with public outreach and curating the competition.

The design competition finalists are expected to be innovative in their approach while simultaneously creating a healthier environment for the city’s beaches.

“This is far more than just a technical solution,” said Sam Carter, founding principal of Resilient Cities Catalyst. “By including the points of view of industry leaders from different parts of the globe, these competitors are taking part in a big picture approach that will set our beaches up to evolve with the changing climate.”

The project team will hold a series of public workshops and provide additional opportunities for public input and engagement on the design alternatives created by the finalists. The first workshop is scheduled for Aug. 29 in council chambers at city hall.

“With the competitors chosen, we are looking to launch into design and need public assistance on developing the suite of benefits that a project like this may offer the Oceanside community,” Timberlake said. “We have three public workshops planned for the end of summer and fall. Given the community’s undeniable connection to the coast, we are expecting and encouraging those who love the coast of Oceanside to come join the process of determining the future of our beaches.”

The project will be brought to the City Council in early 2024 for final approval.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of the article stated the first workshop is scheduled for Aug. 24. However, that date has since been moved to Aug. 29.

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