Letter to the editor: Encinitas needs sandy beaches


Keeping sand on the beaches is a tough problem.

Beachgoers, including surfers, want sandy beaches. City government must preserve sandy beaches for residents and visitors. Sandy beaches are the core of the local economy. Sandy beaches retard erosion at bluff bottoms.

Homeowners on the Encinitas bluffs want to preserve their houses and land. They are residents, voters and taxpayers. City government must address their concerns. The city gets a share of bluff-top owners’ property taxes. No properties, no property tax revenue.

Seawalls temporarily preserve sea bluffs and properties atop them. Unless sand beneath and adjacent to the seawalls is consistently replenished, the beach washes away.

Natural replenishment of sand has been all but halted by dams and other means of stopping sand from migrating down creeks to the beaches.

Dredging offshore sand and dumping it on the beaches destroys marine life, much of which is at the bottom of the food chain. In two ways, overloading the beaches with dredged sand risks ruining surf spots:

First, too much sand covers the reefs and negatively affects how waves break. Second, too much sand makes beach slopes too steep. Broken waves roll up the slope and rush back down, creating a backwash that ruins incoming unbroken waves for surfing.

Reviewing beach photos as far back as when Hammond built Noonan’s house at what we call Swami’s Point reveals there is now as much or more sand on Encinitas beaches than there has been in over 100 years.

Periodically dumping hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of dredged sand on our beaches, as the Army Corps of Engineers proposes, could do more harm than good. True, periodic dredge-and-dumps create sandy beaches for beachgoers and protect the base of the bluffs, but they kill marine life and potentially ruin surf spots.

Consistently replenishing beaches with opportunistic sand — from lagoons and construction sites, for example — would simulate bygone natural processes. Sand formerly refilled Encinitas beaches from three outlets: Batiquitos Lagoon, Cottonwood Creek and San Elijo Lagoon. Opportunistic sand stored at those locations could be deposited near shore to let currents and waves distribute it. Those deposits would be made only when the beaches need sand.

We can’t fully restore nature, but we can approximate it.

Doug Fiske, Encinitas