Encinitas Council denies appeal of Beacon’s Beach parking lot project

The downtown Encinitas sign.
(Charlie Neuman / San Diego Union-Tribune/Zuma Pre)

Lot proposed to be relocated out of the landslide-prone area, but 11 parking spots will be eliminated in the process


Plans to relocate the small parking lot at Beacon’s Beach should proceed as planned, Encinitas City Council members unanimously decided Wednesday, June 28, as they rejected an appeal filed by a coastal land use consultant.

Councilmember Allison Blackwell said, “Moving that parking lot back will bring some safety, I think,” to the landslide-prone, bluff-top area, while Councilmember Kellie Hinze said she was sorry the parking lot had to change, but thought it was for the best.

“We’re up against physics, we’re up against some underlying issues, and I think as soon as we can implement the project the better,” Hinze said.

Plans call for moving the parking lot about seven feet back from what’s estimated to be the coastal bluff’s future “failure point,” city coastal zone program administrator Todd Mierau said. New pavement, new sidewalks, new bike parking and new roadway access points to the parking lot are included in the plans.

However, the proposal is going to result in the loss of 11 of the lot’s current 26 parking spots.

Known for its spectacular sunset and surf views, Beacon’s is along the west side of Neptune Avenue between Leucadia Boulevard and Jasper Street. The tiny parking lot is squeezed between Neptune and the cliff edge, and a much-loved, dirt switchback trail runs from the cliff edge down to Beacon’s Beach.

At a meeting in early May when the city’s Planning Commission approved the project’s permits, the city’s coastal zone program administrator said that the beach access point was created by a series of massive landslides long, long ago. Landslides have continued to be a problem in recent decades and there was one last year, Mierau added.

Chandra Slaven, a coastal land use consultant who is representing some Encinitas residents who are opposed to the project, told the council June 28 that she and other project opponents don’t disagree that work needs to be done at Beacon’s. However, she said, this definitely isn’t the right project.

Instead of moving the parking lot around, the city should revive its previously dropped plans to place an erodible sand berm on the beach to protect the cliff from wave action, she said.

“Merely moving back the parking lot does not address the underlying issues,” Slaven said.

In her appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision, Slaven mentioned a lengthy list of concerns about the project, including everything from environmental considerations to whether the public participation process had been properly handled.

Five people spoke during public comment on the appeal June 28. Three of them supported Slaven’s position, saying the city needs to do a better job maintaining the Beacon’s area and should focus on stabilizing the bluff instead of relocating the parking lot.

The two other public speakers were San Diego County Surfrider Foundation chapter members and they supported the city’s parking lot relocation project, saying it would preserve access to the beach. Mitch Silverstein, the Surfrider Foundation chapter’s policy coordinator, said he was pleased that the Planning Commission had asked for bike parking that would accommodate bicycles with surf racks.