Repairs to Stonesteps staircase in Encinitas begin in earnest

A closure sign hangs on a fence at top the Stonesteps in Encinitas, CA on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023.
A closure sign hangs on a fence at top the Stonesteps in Encinitas. The steps were closed due to structural problems.
(Adriana Heldiz / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Some project supplies still awaiting delivery, city reports


Repairs to the Stonesteps Beach staircase have moved into the active construction phase, but it still will be weeks before the popular beach access point can possibly reopen to the public, the city reported last week.

Contractors were expected to finish shoring up the existing, winter storm-damaged staircase and getting the site ready for major construction activity late this week. Next comes “the demolition of the deck and beams,” a city press release announced Thursday, June 1.

“Once demolition is complete, the contractor anticipates the repairs will take approximately two weeks, pending the arrival of the (new) structural beams,” it continued.

Those structural beams, which had to be custom-made, are now in transit from Northern California, it added.

Located at the western end of South El Portal Street, the Stonesteps Beach staircase was damaged during severe winter weather in January. Engineers “red tagged” the staircase and closed it to public use after an inspection found the main support beam for the upper deck and the lower stairs was structurally unsafe and needed to be replaced.

The staircase is a two-part structure — the upper area has concrete steps, while the lower portion consists of a wooden staircase. The stairs connect the upper cliff bluff top with the sand some 70 feet below.

Initially, city officials had hoped to reopen the staircase earlier this spring, but then discovered the work was more involved than anticipated, city officials have said.

In addition to needing custom-made support beams, the project requires special timing considerations, City Manager Pamela Antil told the City Council. Some work needs to be done during low tide when the ocean is further away from the base of the staircase.

During the many-months-long closure, the city has been encouraging Stonesteps Beach users to go to Beacons or Moonlight Beach. For project updates, visit the city’s web site at: