Edit ModuleShow Tags

Front Pages


Published:

(page 1 of 4)

a san diego beachSAN DIEGO’S COASTAL TOWNS are on a beach-replenishment binge. For years, local beaches have been steadily denuded of sand. The problem was particularly acute in North County, where the oceanfront shoreline between Solana Beach and Oceanside was often nothing more than thin strands of cobblestone.

There’s been lots of finger-pointing—at such targets as Oceanside Harbor, seawalls and dams—and even more handwringing that the county’s signature beaches were literally wasting away to nothing. And so it was that authorities turned to getting sand dug up by developers or dredged from lagoons, rivers and bays and dumping it back on the beach. In 2001, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) coordinated a $17.5 million sand-replenishment project, funded by one-time state and federal sources, in which a dozen erosion-plagued beaches from Imperial Beach to Oceanside got 2.1 million cubic yards of sand that had been dredged from offshore sandbars. Last year, Imperial Beach said it wanted to use federal redevelopment money to put more sand on its beaches, and just three months ago the Carlsbad City Council approved a $52,750 contract for a Long Beach engineering firm to secure permits to take sand from underground or offshore sites as it becomes available.

Since then, the press has been full of glowing reports about the success of these projects. “Sand project ‘a clear win,’ study finds,” read a headline in The San Diego Union-Tribune in October 2002, citing a SAN\DAG study that found most of the sand was still in place a year after it had been dumped. But not everyone believes beach replenishment is a “win.” “Beach replenishment is not a one-time solution,” says Rob Young, an associate professor of geology at Western Carolina University. Once the first load of sand is dumped, he says, “You’re asking citizens to buy into beach replenishment forever. It will never end—in fact, nourishment needs will only continue.” Moreover, Young warns, unless the grains of imported sand match the original grains of sand, a replenished beach “tends to have a higher erosion rate than the natural beach did.” Particularly vulnerable are beaches covered with cobblestones, like those in North County.

Young is not surprised local officials consider the massive 2001 beach replenishment project a success. “You’ve had a pretty quiet period over the last three years as far as storms go,” he says. “All you need is one El Niño year and then every beach replenishment project is gone.”

A far better option, Young says, is to limit development— even to the point of moving existing structures back to give the beach some breathing room. “All the beach is trying to do is retreat naturally inward,” he says. “If the sidewalks and streets were not there, the beach would be as wide as it’s always been; it would have simply moved inward.”

Rob Rundle, a senior planner with SANDAG, concedes beach replenishment will have to be an ongoing project. “It’s a short-term fix,” he says. But curtailing development isn’t an option, he says. And while SANDAG looked at other options, such as “sand retention strategies” that involve putting up offshore barriers to change wave dynamics, “those haven’t really been tested, and when we got the funds, the consensus among elected officials was we wanted to get sand on the beaches. So that’s what we did.”SAN DIEGO’S COASTAL TOWNS are on a beach-replenishment binge. For years, local beaches have been steadily denuded of sand. The problem was particularly acute in North County, where the oceanfront shoreline between Solana Beach and Oceanside was often nothing more than thin strands of cobblestone. There’s been lots of finger-pointing—at such targets as Oceanside Harbor, seawalls and dams—and even more handwringing that the county’s signature beaches were literally wasting away to nothing. And so it was that authorities turned to getting sand dug up by developers or dredged from lagoons, rivers and bays and dumping it back on the beach.

In 2001, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) coordinated a $17.5 million sand-replenishment project, funded by one-time state and federal sources, in which a dozen erosion-plagued beaches from Imperial Beach to Oceanside got 2.1 million cubic yards of sand that had been dredged from offshore sandbars. Last year, Imperial Beach said it wanted to use federal redevelopment money to put more sand on its beaches, and just three months ago the Carlsbad City Council approved a $52,750 contract for a Long Beach engineering firm to secure permits to take sand from underground or offshore sites as it becomes available.

Since then, the press has been full of glowing reports about the success of these projects. “Sand project ‘a clear win,’ study finds,” read a headline in The San Diego Union-Tribune in October 2002, citing a SAN\DAG study that found most of the sand was still in place a year after it had been dumped. But not everyone believes beach replenishment is a “win.” “Beach replenishment is not a one-time solution,” says Rob Young, an associate professor of geology at Western Carolina University. Once the first load of sand is dumped, he says, “You’re asking citizens to buy into beach replenishment forever. It will never end—in fact, nourishment needs will only continue.” Moreover, Young warns, unless the grains of imported sand match the original grains of sand, a replenished beach “tends to have a higher erosion rate than the natural beach did.” Particularly vulnerable are beaches covered with cobblestones, like those in North County.

Young is not surprised local officials consider the massive 2001 beach replenishment project a success. “You’ve had a pretty quiet period over the last three years as far as storms go,” he says. “All you need is one El Niño year and then every beach replenishment project is gone.”

A far better option, Young says, is to limit development— even to the point of moving existing structures back to give the beach some breathing room. “All the beach is trying to do is retreat naturally inward,” he says. “If the sidewalks and streets were not there, the beach would be as wide as it’s always been; it would have simply moved inward.”

Rob Rundle, a senior planner with SANDAG, concedes beach replenishment will have to be an ongoing project. “It’s a short-term fix,” he says. But curtailing development isn’t an option, he says. And while SANDAG looked at other options, such as “sand retention strategies” that involve putting up offshore barriers to change wave dynamics, “those haven’t really been tested, and when we got the funds, the consensus among elected officials was we wanted to get sand on the beaches. So that’s what we did.”
Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote Now for San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018
    From burritos to bottomless mimosas, you choose San Diego’s best eats and drinks in 90 categories
  2. Personal Stories are on Display at the Museum of Man's 'PostSecret'
    Frank Warren collects deep, dark secrets for this community arts project
  3. The Best Burgers in San Diego
    These burgers are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best in San Diego
  4. The Best of North County 2018
    Our annual list of what we’re loving above the 56, from bites and brews to shopping, wellness, and arts and kids’ activities galore
  5. 31 Best Places to Live in San Diego
    Five local homeowners share their advice, tips, and tricks on how they sealed the deal
  6. Has Anything Really Changed Since Ballast Point Sold to Constellation?
    More than two years after the acquisition, misinformation and misunderstanding still abound
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags