A temporary seawall that was built on a Leucadia bluff three years ago after part of the cliff collapsed will stay stay there permanently.
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) first gave permission for the seawall because the collapse was considered an emergency situation — and in January the city’s planning commission granted the permits allowing it to remain permanently, but opponents appealed that decision.Wednesday night Encinitas City Council heard from both sides during a public hearing, and in a 4-1 vote with Councilwoman Teresa Barth opposed, decided to uphold the planning commission’s ruling.
The Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF), the party opposed to the seawall, argues that this sort of manmade barrier prevents the natural erosion needed for sand replenishment on the beach.
Blue Curl Inc.— the company that owns the rental duplex on Neptune Avenue protected by that seawall — says there is no proof that the seawall has caused any environmental harm to the coastline.
Wednesday night Marco Gonzales, CERF executive director and Coast Law Group attorney, said that in addition to providing mitigation for the loss of sand, the property owner should also have to provide mitigation for the city’s loss of physical space behind the seawall. He pointed out that the city of Solana Beach — which faces similar bluff issues that Gonzales has been involved with for 15 years — is in the process of conducting a study that will charge a fee for that loss of beach. While that study is ongoing, Solana Beach is requiring a $1,000 deposit per linear foot of seawall, which will be kept in an escrow account until a fee is determined. Gonzalez suggested the city of Encinitas do the same.
“This isn’t rocket science, this isn’t new. This is happening statewide,” he said.
Mark Dillon, the attorney representing Blue Curl Inc., said that because there was no significant environmental impact from the seawall, no additional mitigation should be required.
“You can’t just pull the mitigation trigger because somebody has constructed a wall to protect their duplex above,” he said.
Gonzalez urged the Council to come up with a comprehensive plan for its seawalls. He also assured Council that he would appeal their decision to the CCC and that he will continue to be involved.
“Today is the first of what will be many times that I appear before you to discuss your plan to deal with coastal armoring here in Encinitas.”