State senator calls on federal, state support for bluff stabilization

Flowers are left for victims of the bluff collapse in Encinitas.
(Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

A state senator, reacting to the deaths of three women killed when a multi-ton section of sea bluff collapsed onto them at Grandview Beach in Leucadia, called Aug. 28 on federal and state agencies to fund and complete bluff stabilization projects along the coast in San Diego County and the state as a whole.

Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, wrote separate letters to the White House Office of Management and Budget and the California Coastal Commission to request assistance with bluff stabilization in the wake of the Aug. 2 bluff collapse that killed Julie Davis, 65, Davis’ 35-year-old daughter, Anne Clave, and Clave’s 62-year-old aunt, Elizabeth Charles.

Bates called on Acting OMB Director Russell Vought to approve a funding request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete a storm-damaged bluff stabilization project in Encinitas and Solana Beach. She also endorsed Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Levin, D-Oceanside, in their effort to get the funding approved.

“While there is no silver bullet in strengthening our coast against further erosion, I believe we should consider every option that can help,” Bates said. “Having more federal funds will be welcome, but so will giving communities flexibility to respond to local threats.”

Bates also asked the CCC to consider future bluff stabilization techniques and projects that avoid so-called “managed retreat,” a strategy of moving certain areas and developments to minimize the effects of sea level rise.

“Every level of government should work together to protect our coast,” Bates said.

When the section of cliff sloughed off the bluff at Grandview Beach, a popular surfing site near Batiquitos Lagoon shortly before 3 p.m. that Friday, Aug. 2, the victims were buried in a roughly 25- by 30-foot earthen pile.

Charles, a San Francisco resident, died at the scene, and the other two victims, who lived in Encinitas, died at hospitals.

Following an overnight closure, Encinitas city officials reopened the beach off Neptune Avenue with signs posted to the north and south of the site of the triple fatality advising the public to keep out of the “active area” and recommended that beachgoers “avoid areas near or under the bluffs and keep a recommended safe distance of 25 to 40 feet.”