Nonprofit steps up to raise funds for closed Cardiff stairway


A nonprofit is raising funds that will go toward repairing a shuttered Cardiff stairway that has provided beach access since the 1960s.

Lifeguards closed the stairway, just north of the San Elijo State Beach Campground entrance building, about two months ago as a precautionary measure. Because of wear and tear, a section of the stairway is in danger of failing.

“This is a popular way for surfers to get down to the beach,” said Kathleen Kooiman, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit Friends of Cardiff and Carlsbad State Beaches (FCCSB). “A lot of people were disappointed when this closed.”

FCCSB is asking for donations to cover the cost of replacing the broken stairway section, estimated at $6,000 to $7,000, as part of its mission to preserve beach access.

The nonprofit previously oversaw the rehab of a different stairway a stone’s throw to the south, after receiving a $20,000 donation from Seaside Market.

FCCSB formed to support local parks and beautify the area. Besides rehabbing stairways, the nonprofit has spruced up park facilities and boosted recycling at beaches and campgrounds.

Kooiman said it’s important to periodically overhaul these Cardiff beach stairways, considering the San Elijo State Beach Campground has lost weakened stairways over the years to powerful storms. Repair is much less expensive than building new stairs, and the permit process is much easier, she stated.

Near the bottom of the closed stairs, the wooden stringer, which holds the stairs in place, has split. And some of the brackets are broken, according to Supervising State Park Ranger Lisa Urbach.

“Because of that, it did not seem safe to keep it open,” Urbach said.

Urbach said right after the stairway closed, people jumped over the fence and made their way down the bluff. To cut down on that dangerous behavior, state parks put a sign up showing the nearest access point to the south, she added.

“It’s utilized by surfers, locals and campers,” she said of the stairway. “It’s one of the most direct paths down to the beach if you park across the street.”

Urbach said repairs are slated to be complete in a month or so.

Although there are six other beach stairways in the San Elijo State Beach Campground, Kooiman said all the access points are critical.

“You want it to be as convenient as possible for people to get to the beach,” she said. “People rely on all of them.”

Those interested in donating can email Kooiman at or visit