Stonesteps Beach access in Encinitas could reopen next month

The Stonesteps in Encinitas were closed due to structural problems.
(Adriana Heldiz / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Repair work on the winter storm-damaged staircase could conclude within a few weeks if the good weather continues


Repair work on the winter storm-damaged Stonesteps Beach staircase could conclude within a few weeks, if the good weather continues, the Encinitas city manager reported Wednesday, Jan. 25.

A structural engineer already has been hired and construction details are being worked out, City Manager Pamela Antil told the City Council at the end of the council’s regular meeting.

Under the current construction forecast, the staircase could reopen to the public sometime next month.

“But, there could be weather delays,” Antil cautioned, and then asked people to have patience.

Located at the western end of South El Portal Street, the Stonesteps Beach staircase closed to the public earlier this month after storm-tossed waves repeatedly battered the region’s coastline. The staircase was “red tagged” on Jan. 11 after an engineering assessment found the main support beam for the upper deck and the lower stairs was structurally unsafe and needed to be replaced.

The repair work, including engineering analysis, is estimated to cost $99,780, a new city staff report states. Part of the money will come from the city’s parks budget and part from the general fund, it adds.

The staircase consists of two sections — an upper concrete stair area and a lower wooden stair tower. It traverses a 70-stretch from the top of the beach bluff to the sand, the report states.

Antil said Wednesday night that the repair project will be challenging. Some parts need to be special ordered, some work can only be done at low tide, and a large forklift will be required on the beach to support the staircase structure during the beam replacement portion of the project, she said.

In recent days, San Diego County has experienced clear skies and very warm weather, in stark contrast to stormy period that began over the Christmas holidays and continued into January. The rain and waves from those storms are thought to have caused last week’s huge bluff collapse at Black’s Beach in La Jolla.

Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz told Antil that he had watched the stunning video of the bluff collapse and hoped that incident would encourage beach-goers to be “extremely careful with regard to the bluffs.”

He asked Antil if the city’s beach access points were being regularly inspected given the stormy weather. She responded that lifeguards check conditions multiple times a day and report any concerns. That’s how the Stonesteps situation was discovered.