Encinitas receives grant for 50-year sand project


The Encinitas City Council last week accepted an additional $225,000 in state grant money for a plan that proposes to regularly nourish beaches in Encinitas and Solana Beach over 50 years.

That money will help cover the cost of preconstruction engineering and design work for the long-planned project, which is designed to combat coastal erosion and sea-level rise.

Related to the agenda item, Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer asked whether the 50-year plan could be altered to place more sand in front of Beacon’s Beach. She noted the city in January declared a local emergency in order to dump local sand in front of Beacon’s Beach, but large waves washed away suitable sand in the area.

Encinitas Public Works Director Glenn Pruim said significantly changing the long-term project would mean having to get federal approval again.

Katherine Weldon, the city’s shoreline preservation manager, said the Batiquitos Lagoon will likely be dredged this fall and the resulting sand would be placed near Beacon’s. Also, the city could potentially receive “opportunistic sand” from Interstate 5 construction this year.

The council ultimately decided to stick with the current plan.

The State Parks Department last October agreed to give Encinitas a $225,000 grant toward the project, and it recently agreed to kick in an additional $225,000, bringing its total contribution locally to $450,000. Solana Beach received the same amount in grant funding.

Preconstruction engineering and design work for the plan is estimated to cost roughly $3 million. The federal government is paying most of this tab, with the state contributing a large chunk. It’s estimated each Encinitas and Solana Beach would pay $75,000 in the form of staff time, according to Weldon.

Resident Dennis Lees, the sole public speaker, urged the city not to accept the grant and to scrap the project altogether. He contended it’s placing too much sand on beaches and in the wrong places.

Last fall, the Encinitas council signed off on an environmental assessment report for the project, a big step forward. Next for the city is completing the preconstruction engineering and design work, and then the city will seek federal funding.

City officials have previously stated the project could begin as soon as 2018.

It’s estimated the entire project over the 50 years would cost $164.9 million. The Army Corps under draft plans would fund about $87 million. The cities, the state and potentially other funding sources would pay for the rest.