West Coast
Workers use a tractor to build a sand berm in front of a concession stand a T-Street beach in San Clemente, CA, on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

CA - San Clemente launches outreach, new subcommittee looking at sand erosion issues

San Clemente is ramping up efforts to find sand solutions for its quickly eroding beaches, an ongoing problem threatening the coastal town’s valuable resource and recreation space.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a project 20 years in the planning gearing up in San Clemente, with work expected to start this fall to add 250,000 cubic yards of sand between Linda Lane and T-Street beaches.

But there is another 4.5 miles of San Clemente coastline that continues to shrink and that’s what a new council subcommittee created this month, to which councilmembers Victor Cabral and Mark Enmeier were appointed, will be looking at with other stakeholders, such as community members and the advocacy group Save Our Beaches SC.

At the same time, San Clemente’s Beaches, Park and Recreation Committee held this week the first of several public outreach meetings to discuss the city’s Nature Based Coastal Resiliency Project Feasibility Study, which will identify critical beach erosion hot spots and solutions to address short-term and long-term coastal erosion.

Supervisory Coastal Scientist Chris Webb, part of the Moffatt & Nichol consultant team hired by the city last year to do the study, showed a presentation highlighting trouble areas. He clicked through images of ocean waves splashing a passing train where now the railroad is closed for repairs to the shifting track; of the sand-depleted North Beach area; and of the city’s lifeguard headquarters threatened by the rising sea.

“We want San Clemente to have a beach for as long as possible,” Webb said. The first goal is to advance shoreline protection and the second is to have a process that is stakeholder driven and backed by science, engineering and science.

There will be several ideas explored, including near-shore and offshore reefs, beach nourishment and living shorelines behind the beach, he said. Consultants will also look at nearby Trestles and the cobblestone reefs that helps sustain the sand, and whether those conditions can be replicated further north in San Clemente.

“There’s a gold mine of information right there, just down south,” Webb said. “Maybe that can be mimicked on a smaller scale somewhere else.”

Webb said San Clemente is not alone in its sand problems and suggested officials collaborate with other cities and the county to forge partnerships so they can have a stronger stakeholder push going to the state seeking funding.

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