As storms scour beaches down to rock, North County cities are looking at various solutions to protect their coastal areas.

VOSD reported earlier this month that this winter’s storms may signal a new norm, with higher sea levels. So far, recent tides and waves have undermined some short-term fixes, including costly sand-replenishment projects, damaging beaches, roads and residences.

Sand replenishment is one approach to buffer the coast against powerful surf and tides, and the San Diego Association of Governments completed two beach sand replenishments across the county in 2001 and 2012.

A report released last year by SANDAG found that the costly 2012 sand replenishment project hasn’t produced many clear benefits. In the three years after the $28.5 million program concluded, two county beaches lost sand while their shorelines advanced, two gained more beach and four remained unchanged.

Much of Solana Beach’s sandstone bluff is armored against erosion, and every day the city loses sand to the armored cliff. Natural cliff erosion feeds the beaches, but also threatens structures. Just ask people in Pacifica.

Residents and developers already pay a sand replenishment fee, but now the Coastal Commission wants the city to include a “recreation mitigation fee” as part of its Local Coastal Program, a system that allows cities to regulate development with different standards in coastal areas.

Meanwhile, Oceanside continues to look for “sand opportunities” – where excess sand becomes available after a site is graded before construction – to replenish its beaches, and protect the abundance of sea-level development.

Carlsbad has stabilized a section of Coast Highway, but the southbound lane remains closed as the city considers how to repair it. According to Coast News, that could include a better boulder wall, or realigning Coast Highway, making it a little less coastal.

Moving on From ‘Highway’ –  it Moves People Too

Meanwhile, Oceanside will make Coast Highway a little less … highway-ish ‒ at least in one area. The City Council approved a pilot study to reduce a half-mile stretch of road to two lanes, and improve the existing bike lanes by making them a uniform 8 feet wide, with 8-foot buffers.

The change was spurred by the death of an Oceanside boy last year, where residents successfully argued that his death was a matter of poor infrastructure, and not bike safety or education.

Though the project is just part of an open-ended study, an existing vision plan calls for transforming Coast Highway into a full transportation corridor, and adding bike lanes from the harbor to Vista Way.

Abed Doesn’t Abide by City’s Rules

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed landed in hot water when it came to light that he paved a property and didn’t control the stormwater, reports the Union-Tribune.

The city is uncertain whether Abed’s property was previously paved (and thus exempt from the city’s stormwater-treatment requirements), and the State Regional Water Control Board is calling the effectiveness of the city to issue permits into question.

Last fall, Abed, a candidate for county supervisor, got dinged for linking to his campaign website from the city’s official website.

Around the County

 The director of The Classical Academies, which has schools around North County, says it’s time to address leadership issues at the Poway Unified School District. (Voice of San Diego)

 The Union-Tribune supports the Caruso mall development in Carlsbad, but not the Lilac Hills project, in a new video editorial.

 San Marcos’ Restaurant Row is about to be rebuilt. (Union-Tribune)

 Another North County city has banned stores from selling puppies from commercial breeders. The owner of the store at the center of it, Mini Toy Puppies, also owns stores in Vista and Oceanside. (Times of San Diego)

 Escondido massage parlors are cited for code and ordinance violations. (Fox 5 San Diego)

 Oceanside now accepts comments on Council agenda items via its website. (Union-Tribune)

 I mean … it depends on your interpretation of “San Diego.” (Buzzfeed)

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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