ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Planning Commission approved a proposal at its Dec. 7 meeting to stabilize an eroding bluff to better protect a home located on Neptune Avenue.
The project, located at 736-738 Neptune Avenue and south of Beacon’s Beach, will involve reinforcement and expansion of existing upper bluff post-and-board retaining walls. The existing timber retaining walls will be reinforced with shotcrete — concrete or mortar sprayed onto a surface at high velocity — and sculpted and colored to resemble natural bluffs.
After construction, the new fortified retaining wall will be 56 feet long (extending the entire width of the property from north to south) and approximately 20 feet high.
The bluff had begun to fail in late 2019 after heavy rains, prompting the property owners to seek an emergency permit from the California Coastal Commission to temporarily stabilize the slope with a mesh system.
According to the project’s geotechnical report, the bluff is located within the “700 Block Landslide,” triggered by major rainstorms in March and April 2020. Since then, bluff failures and sloughing have endangered the existing duplex at 738 Neptune Avenue. In November 2020, emergency construction of “a temporary Tecco mesh wire fabric restraining system” was built to improve stability.
Diane Langager, who has been working with applicant Patricia Burg and her family for years on a permanent solution, said the homeowners are “grateful to staff for getting us to this point.”
While the Burgs are taking point on the project application, the restoration aims to address the ongoing threat of landslides within the 700 block of Neptune Avenue.
The primary objective is to stabilize the land using a tied-back wall system, described as steel-reinforced structural shotcrete, spanning from the northerly to the southerly property lines. With existing emergency repairs as a foundation, steel anchors extending as far as 235 feet, structural reinforcement and shotcrete will be laid over the existing Tecco mesh (high-tensile steel wire used to stabilize slopes) to provide stability to the entire property.
These measures don’t address landslides seaward of the stabilized bluff, but they should effectively prevent landward slope failures that would impact residences.
“The proposed reinforcement of the existing bluff retaining wall and wall expansion across the width of the property represents the minimum effort required to stabilize the landslide mass below the structure,” the staff report reads.
The proposal assures that the construction of the tied-back wall won’t adversely affect bluff stability, visual compatibility or existing vegetation. The construction of the wall is confined to the upper bluff portion, ensuring no reduction or restriction of existing beach width or access.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the project and the stabilization work will now move forward, protecting the home owned by the same family since the 1960s.