Levin, local leaders discuss federal funding for bluff stabilization

U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, announced funding for the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project during a news conference in Encinitas.
(Luke Harold)

After his wife, daughter and sister-in-law died in a bluff collapse last summer, Encinitas resident Pat Davis joined the many local voices calling for federal funding to combat the erosion, sea level rise and other environmental factors that caused it.

He and U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, marked the recent allocation of the first $400,000 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during a Feb. 21 news conference at Grandview Beach in Encinitas, steps away from the fatal collapse. Levin announced Feb. 10 that the funds had been secured.

“Since the accident that killed three of my family members, Julie, Annie and Elizabeth, happened eight months ago, there have been numerous bluff collapses, all with potential to kill people,” Davis said. “They will continue to happen along our beautiful beaches in Encinitas and Solana Beach. People need to be mindful how dangerous these bluffs can be.”

The money will be used for the planning, engineering and design of the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, a 50-year plan that includes measures to stabilize the bluffs. The cities were planning for the project for years as they waited for federal funds.

“While this is a big step, we know there is much more work to be done,” said Levin, who brought Davis with him to President Trump’s state of the union address to help advocate for the funding.

Pat Davis spoke about his wife, daughter and sister-in-law, who were killed on Grandview Beach last August when a portion of the bluff collapsed.
(Luke Harold)

The congressman said the planning, engineering and design phase will require an additional $1.5 million from the federal government that he will pursue in the years ahead. After that, he added, federal approval for the construction phase is required. The federal government will fund 65% of the initial $30 million in construction costs, and half of an estimated $130 million to cover the remaining 50 years of the project.

The project was approved by Congress in 2016, and Levin had been urging the Army Corps of Engineers and Office of Budget and Management to allocate funding after last summer’s tragedy on Grandview Beach.

Levin also announced $505,000 for planning, engineering and design of the San Clemente Shoreline Project, which focuses on the rail corridor from San Diego to Los Angeles.

Encinitas Deputy Mayor Kelly Shay Hinze said the Encinitas-Solana Beach project will include sand replenishment, and help restore habitats, provide more recreational space, and increase public safety by limiting some of the environmental causes of bluff erosion.

“All of the residents and the visitors to our beautiful beach town have been waiting for the day when we can put more sand on the beach and restore the historic sand levels that we loved about Encinitas in years gone,” she said, adding that the city has appropriated local funds to use with the federal funding.

Solana Beach Mayor Jewel Edson said her city, which is also contributing funds, is “excited” that the project is moving forward.

“As a result of climate change, coastal cities like ours are experiencing stronger storm swells and erosion,” she said. “Protecting beachgoers and property along the coastal continues to be a top priority.”