Federal funding announced for two North County sand projects

Wave crash on the rock revetment at Wisconsin Avenue along The Strand South in Oceanside in October 2020.
Waves crash on the rock revetment along The Strand South in Oceanside in October 2020.
(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Oceanside Shoreline Study, Encinitas-Solana Beach project together get $32 million


A long-sidelined Oceanside shoreline study and a 50-year Encinitas-Solana Beach sand replenishment project together will get more than $32 million in federal funding, Rep. Mike Levin said Wednesday, Jan. 19.

“I am thrilled to announce the bipartisan infrastructure law is delivering funding for two critical projects that will help protect local beaches from dangerous erosion,” said Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, in a news release.

“Funding for the Encinitas-Solana Beach project will allow us to place more than a million cubic yards of sand along our beaches, which will reduce erosion of coastal bluffs, improve public safety, and expand all of the recreational benefits that come with larger sandy beaches,” he said.

“Funding for the long-delayed Oceanside Special Shoreline Study will similarly advance efforts to restore local beaches that have been negatively affected by the construction of Camp Pendleton Harbor.”

Originally expected to be finished in three years, the partially completed Oceanside study was suspended in 2017 when funding dried up for the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asked Oceanside to contribute $1 million to continue the work, but the city had no money to spare.

The shoreline study by the Corps of Engineers is separate from studies for a pilot sand restoration and retention project approved last year by the Oceanside City Council.

“These are two independent studies with a different focus, different objectives and different goals,” Oceanside Public Works Director Hamid Bahadori said Wednesday, Jan. 19.

Oceanside’s study is looking at ways to restore and retain sand, with a focus on the possibility of building rock groins or a reef to retain sand on the beach. Also in the plan is a bypass system to carry sand through pipes around the harbor and the Camp Pendleton boat basin to beaches south of the pier.

The Corps of Engineers’ work is focused more on the cause of Oceanside’s coastal erosion. North County’s seaside bluffs erode naturally, but previous studies have shown the loss accelerated with the construction of a boat basin in the 1940s at the border of Camp Pendleton, and then the creation of the Oceanside harbor in the 1960s.

The shrinking beaches threaten seaside homes, roads, hotels and the area’s tourism-based economy.

Oceanside Councilmember Peter Weiss said Wednesday, Jan. 19, the Corps of Engineers should have finished the shoreline study earlier. The process has been underway more than 10 years.

“My frustration with the Corps ... is that for some reason they just don’t ever finish the study,” Weiss said. “That’s why we did our own study looking for solutions.”

The San Luis Rey River flood control project is another unfinished Corps of Engineers project. In 2017, the $5.3 million channel excavation fell through a second time because of the Corps’ inability to get local and regional permits and other problems. If completed, the work would protect hundreds of homes along the river from flooding.

Completion of the Oceanside shoreline study would help to lay the groundwork for other beach protection efforts. A similar study was done for the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, which has been in the planning, design and permit stages for years, and will get $30.5 million of the money announced this week for construction.

The Encinitas-Solana Beach project involves placing 700,000 cubic yards of sand along 7,200 feet of beach in Solana Beach and 340,000 cubic yards of sand along 7,800 feet of beach in Encinitas, states a release from Levin’s office. All the sand will be taken from nearby offshore deposits.

The project will widen the beaches to reduce storm damage, improve safety, and expand recreational benefits for the public. Levin previously helped obtain $1.5 million in federal funding to complete the planning, engineering and design for the project.

Sand replenishment will occur every five to 10 years for the 50-year life of the project, which was estimated to cost a total of $167 million in 2015 dollars.