San Diego Union-Tribune: Levin, Harris, Feinstein call for federal funds to stabilize beach bluffs

August 21, 2019
In The News

Following the deaths of three people from a bluff collapse on an Encinitas Beach earlier this month, California’s two senators and Rep. Mike Levin on Wednesday asked for federal funds for a long-sought project that could prevent such tragedies in the future.

“In light of these events, we urge you to approve the request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide funding for the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, also known as the San Diego County Shore Protection Project,” read the letter addressed to Office of Management Budget Acting Director Russell Vought and signed by Levin, a Democrat from San Juan Capistrano, and senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

Three women from the same family died Aug. 2 when they were crushed in a bluff collapse at Grandview beach in Encinitas. In 2000, a woman was killed in another bluff collapse in Encinitas.

The shore protection project would widen beaches and protect crumbling bluffs by adding tons of sand to an eight-mile stretch of Encinitas and Solana Beach shoreline. The plan has been debated locally and modified over the years to address concerns of environmental groups, including the Surfrider Foundation, that cautioned against placing too much sand on beaches.

Both coastal cities are in Levin’s district, have been partners in developing the plan for more than 17 years and have provided funding for the project to the Army Corps of Engineers. Congress authorized the project in 2016, but has not allocated money for it.

“Solana Beach and Encinitas have been ready to take action to ensure that this type of disaster does not happen,” the letter read. “It is past time for the federal government to step up to advance the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project.”

A 2015 story by The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the project would involve dredging sand offshore and distributing it on local beaches over 50 years. Solana Beach staff members had projected initial costs would be $30.4 million, with the federal government covering 64 percent.

The letter asks for the federal government to advance $400,000 to pay for planning, engineering and design in the first year of the project, plus $300,000 to complete an economic update.

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