Stonesteps Beach stairs reopening anticipated before summer

A closure sign hangs on a fence at top the Stonesteps in Encinitas in January.
(Adriana Heldiz/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Repair project in Encinitas to require custom specialty parts, city reports


Provided the weather cooperates and the contractor is able to speedily obtain the necessary specialty parts, the Stonesteps Beach access staircase could reopen just before the busy summer beach season, the city reports.

Initial forecasts were for an earlier reopening, but the project is a bit more challenging than anticipated.

“The beams, brackets and bolts required to repair and replace the timber platform need to be custom-manufactured per the technical specifications before the repairs can begin,” a city press release states. “The contractor is anticipating six weeks for materials lead time prior to beginning the repairs and an additional two weeks for the repair work to take place.”

The construction contract was executed March 15, Travis Karlen, the city’s parks, recreation and cultural arts director, wrote in an e-mail. If all goes as hoped with regard to weather, parts ordering and other factors, the work could conclude before Memorial Day weekend, he said.

Located at the western end of South El Portal Street, the Stonesteps Beach staircase is a two-part structure that covers a 70-foot stretch from the top of the bluff to the sand. The upper area has concrete steps, while the lower portion is wooden.

The staircase sustained substantial damage during stormy weather in early January. Engineers “red tagged” the structure and fenced off access after an inspection found the main support beam for the upper deck and the lower stairs was structurally unsafe and needed to be replaced.

In addition to multiple custom-designed parts, the project also faces some unique work site challenges, City Manager Pamela Antil said during a council meeting in January. Some portions of the project need to be done during low tide and a forklift may be required to hold up the staircase during the beam replacement, she said.

For now, access to the stairs is prohibited, and the city is encouraging beach-goers to use Beacons or Moonlight Beach until the Stonesteps staircase reopens.

The city anticipates announcing the official reopening date on its web site in the “important updates” section: