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Shoreline study stalls due to lack of funding

OCEANSIDE — A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shoreline study was started in 2001 to find a solution to Oceanside beach erosion.The initial promise was that the study would take three years to complete and determine the best solution.

Lack of funds has not allowed the full study to be completed.

The cost of the total study is approximately $4 million. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received about $2.7 million and started the study, but no funding or action had been taken for two years.

At this point the study has determined 19 possible solutions.

Modeling, evaluation of solutions, environmental impact reports, technical reviews, engineer studies and additional reviews still need to be done.

Meanwhile, Oceanside has had sand steadily wash away from its beaches.

This affects tourism and jeopardizes beachfront roads and homes that sand protects from the ocean.

“It goes back to 1942 when they built the Camp Pendleton Harbor and the breakwater,” Frank Quan, coordinator of Oceanside harbor and beaches, said.

In the 1950s several reports were done that acknowledged the breakwater caused erosion to Oceanside beaches.

The north jetty was extended in 1958 and beach erosion was further aggravated.

“In 1967 the federal government said they were 100 percent responsible for the errosion, but never came up with a solution,” Quan said.

A recognizance report was done in 1994 and the city requested a shoreline study to determine a solution.

In addition to beach sand washing away, the Oceanside Harbor has been filling up with sand.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partly funds an annual harbor dredging to ensure the channel has a safe dip that allows boats to motor through. The Navy shares the cost of the annual dredging.

The sand from the dredging is pumped back onto Oceanside beaches to help replenish sand at least temporarily until a long-term solution is determined.

“There are two purposes to the project,” Quan said. “To cut through the channel and replenish beaches.”

Last year’s efforts to pump sand back onto beaches were halted by an unexpected run of grunion. This left significantly less sand on Wisconsin Avenue beach.

“There is absolutely no sand there at all,” City Manager Peter Weiss said.

The marked sand depletion moved City Council to set aside $650,000 in June to cart sand from the San Luis Rey River environmental cleanup project to Wisconsin Avenue beach.

Funds from the multi-million dollar sale of the Laguna Vista Mobile Home Park were set aside for the sand replenishment project.

The San Luis Rey River environmental cleanup project also involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has likewise taken decades.

There is still property mitigation to resolve and additional mowing, grading and restoration to complete before the sand can be moved.

The timeline for the cleanup project depends in part on when the Corps completes the second phase of mowing, which requires permits and chopping through river brush with a massive vegetation mower.

“It is unlikely we will move the sand this year,” Weiss said.

The earliest sand is expected to be put on the beach is spring 2014. The city hopes it can coordinate moving the riverbed sand with the annual harbor dredging operations in spring.

“At least we’ll be ready at a moment’s notice,” said Councilman Jack Feller, at the June meeting when the decision to set aside funds was made.

Oceanside lobbyists continue to push for federal funds to complete the shoreline study that will find the best solution to beach erosion.

Quan did not say whether shoreline study findings would hold true if there continues to be a delay in action.

“The coastline is constantly changing,” Quan said. “It could be significantly different in 10 years.”

“The critical issue is funding,” Quan added. “The Corp has not received funding in the last two years. The work will not be carried out until they receive funds.”


1 comment

Legalblond October 8, 2013 at 10:21 am

Wasn’t there some environmental testing yet to be done on the river bed sand to ensure there’s no bacteria, etc. from the river? SANDAG has $200 million to spend on building more bike paths, but no help to keep Oceanside beaches and harbor? City Manager candidate Steve Jepsen said he wants to return to Oceanside to “help with a beach front hotel” (despite his deal to pay Manchester $2.2 Million NOT to build one.) Won’t developers have trouble building a “beach front hotel” without any beaches and a harbor full of sand?

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