Area has history of landslides and instability and will be monitored
The steep, switch-back trail to Beacon’s Beach reopened Thursday, June 30, in time for the July Fourth weekend after repairs required by a recent landslide.
City officials closed the dirt trail and the paved parking lot 85 feet above sea level after the May 2 collapse, which damaged the trail and left cracks in the slope.
During the eight-week closure, the city and Scripps Institution of Oceanography monitored the slope’s stability and collected data to help decide whether it would be safe to repair and reopen the trail.
“The city’s geotechnical engineer determined that the bluff is stabilizing,” Encinitas officials said this week in a news release. The city will continue working with Scripps, the state Parks Department and the California Coastal Commission to monitor the bluff for signs of another slide.
A contractor began the repairs last week and concluded Wednesday, June 29, with final cleanup Thursday morning, June 30. The cost to the city, including staff time and temporary fencing, was about $50,000, excluding the work and equipment contributed by Scripps, Public Information Officer Julie Taber said Thursday afternoon, June 30.
“The trail was kept in the same configuration and the route was not changed,” Taber said. “Additional steps were added ... since a section of trail had dropped almost 2 feet.”
Four small retaining walls also were added, some damaged steps were replaced and the trail was re-leveled, she said.
Long-term plans call for moving the parking lot back from the edge of the bluff to prevent parked cars from going over in an earthquake or because of ongoing erosion, according to the city website. Non-native, invasive vegetation will be removed, and native species will be planted to help stabilize the slope.
The cliff-top access point in the 900 block of Neptune Avenue, near the end of Leucadia Boulevard, began as a foot path more than 50 years ago. A better trail was built after a large landslide in the early 1980s, Taber said.
Heavy foot traffic at the location, a popular neighborhood surfing spot, adds to wear and tear on the fragile slope.
In 2018, the city proposed building a wooden staircase supported by concrete pillars to the beach, a project expected to cost about $3.5 million. However, the city’s Planning Commission rejected the idea, saying the design was inappropriate for the site.
A proposal to slow erosion by building a seawall at the base of the bluffs was turned down in 2009 by the state Department of Parks and Recreation, which said the structure would be inconsistent with environmental policies.
Like much of the beach in nearby Carlsbad, Beacon’s is owned by the state and is officially known as Leucadia State Beach. The city maintains the beach access under an agreement with the state.
The beach reportedly got its name from an aeronautical beacon mounted on the bluff overlooking the ocean in the late 1930s. At some point over the years, an unnecessary apostrophe was added.
Leucadia resident and former Surfer Magazine editor Doug Fiske researched the issue and found maps and a 1963 “surfing Guide of Southern California Beaches that listed it as “Beacon Beach,” according to a story in the San Diego Reader.
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