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Climate Resilience & Coastal Adaptation

With the Pacific Ocean as our backyard, it is paramount that the City prioritizes projects and policies that promote coastal resilience and adaptation. The City recognizes the importance of protecting our 6 miles of coastline, which includes the people, plants, and animals that rely on the resources that the coast provides. The following chapter outlines the projects and programs the City implements to adapt to future climate change, making our City more resilient to its impacts.

Past & Current Costal Project Updates

Past & Current Costal Project Updates


Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project 

The City is part of a collaborative coastal storm damage reduction project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Solana Beach. The goal of the project is to reduce storm and sea level rise-related coastal damage and erosion by adding sand along 7,800 feet of coastline, which encompasses D Street, Moonlight, and Stonesteps beaches. The project underwent the pre-construction, engineering, and design phase in 2020 and 2021. Monitoring is set to begin the fall of 2022, as baseline conditions of the shoreline environment are required in order to plan for future improvements. Funding is comprised of local, state, and federal sources and was previously delayed due to outstanding circumstances, such as COVID-19. In early 2022, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received $30 million on behalf of the City of Encinitas and the City of Solana Beach from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to begin construction in late 2023-early 2024. 

Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area and Marine Monitoring 

Encinitas is home to Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), a state marine protected area (MPA) that spans from approximately Moonlight State Beach to South Cardiff State Beach and three miles of ocean westward from the shoreline. The Swami’s SMCA was established in 2012, and the effects of establishing the preserve are currently being evaluated by the California Department of Fish and Game through the 2022 Decadal Management Review. The only allowable forms of fishing in this MPA are recreational fishing (hook and line) from shore and spearfishing for white seabass and pelagic finfish. Fishing from boats is prohibited. The prevalence of healthy reefs in the Swami’s SMCA are ideal for recreation but are unfortunately also a draw for poachers. To advance its priority of environmental stewardship, the City installed a marine monitoring (M2) radar in November 2020 on top of the Marine Safety Center at Moonlight State Beach in partnership with the designers of the radar program, Protected Seas, and WILDCOAST, an international environmental non-profit organization. M2 is a low-powered, high frequency marine radar coupled with specially designed software to track boat activity and illegal fishing in nearshore waters. The M2 monitoring is ongoing and has provided data that is critical to both management and enforcement of fishing restrictions in the Swami’s SMCA. 

Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline Project 

The Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline Project, substantially completed in 2019, created a coastal dune with repurposed buried rock revetment and cobblestone and 30,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the San Elijo Lagoon inlet. Native seeds were planted along the new shoreline and volunteer-based management continues to support this new coastal environment. The Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline Project is the first of its kind in Southern California to test coastal dunes as a nature-based solution to beach erosion and flood protection of a vulnerable coastal asset. This project has also created healthy and safe habitats for a variety of species, including the endangered western snowy plover. In March 2021, the City accepted a national award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) for the Best Restored Beach of 2020. In 2019, a monitoring program was developed to study the Shoreline Project and to inform other coastal communities considering such adaptive measures. Monitoring data is also used to inform the project’s long-term maintenance and will continue until 2024. This program is a collaborative effort between the City, California State Parks, The Nature Collective, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Beacon’s Coastal Bluff Restoration Project 

In 2020, the Beacon’s Coastal Bluff Restoration Project was designed, permitted, reviewed, and approved by City Council. The primary objective of the project was to stabilize surface soils by planting native vegetation to protect the access trail, whilst increasing coastal bluff habitat. The approximate 1.2-acre coastal bluff area largely sustained non-native species or bare ground prior to the project. With the installation of adapted native species—such Coast Sunflower, Yucca, and California Sagebrush—the coastal bluff provides enhanced habitat for coastal species, stabilizes the bluff, and beautifies the trail. The restoration program also includes a pilot project which uses washed up kelp to encourage natural dune formation. The restoration program was approved by the Planning Commission in February of 2021 and work began in the fall of 2021. The first round of bluff restoration was officially completed on November 19, 2021. The City’s Parks and Recreation Department plans to move forward with a second round of planting and restoration in the fall of 2022. 

Sand Compatibility and Opportunistic Use Program

In collaboration with San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), Caltrans, and the City, 70,000 cubic yards of beach-quality Torrey Sandstone material was removed from the San Elijo Lagoon beginning in the winter of 2021 as part of the Build NCC (North Coast Corridor) project. This program, Sand Compatibility and Opportunistic Use Program, or SCOUP, standardizes the permitting process and facilitates the use of available sand from construction sites and other opportunistic sources. SCOUP is part of a regional sediment management plan intended to streamline beach nourishment projects. Beach nourishment is a process used to add additional sediment to a beach or nearshore area to provide increased storm protection, develop new habitat, and to enhance beach usage and recreation. The program includes stringent environmental regulations to ensure that the sand sources are compatible with receiver sites. The timing and location of sand placement are also strictly controlled to reduce any negative impacts on coastal habitats and recreation. Over the course of four months, the material was dredged and piped or hauled by truck to Cardiff State Beach or trucked to Moonlight State Beach. Cardiff State Beach was selected to mitigate the effects of a large storm surge in the winter of 2020 that scarped the toe of the Living Shoreline, exposing the underlying cobble berm structure. Nourishing this beach was seen as a preventative measure to help improve the resilience of the Cardiff Living Shoreline Project. Moonlight State Beach was selected to aid in covering the exposed riprap under the Marine Safety Center, in addition to widening the beach in order to accommodate for frequent and heavy recreational usage. The City has used beach nourishment for many years as a method of building coastal resilience and will continue to do so in the future. 

Last updated September 28, 2022