Oceanside beaches have suffered a great loss of sand from winter storms. A group of local advocates are joining together to advocate sustainable beaches. The group, !S.O.S.Oceanside! Save Oceanside Sand, is considering the dynamics of storms, surf, and sand to work with local authorities and recommend solutions to protect area beaches. Oceanside is part of a naturally eroding sandstone bluff coastline which stretches from Dana Point to La Jolla. Coastal currents, tides, and storm swells combine to sweep sand to the south. The Oceanside Harbor interrupts the southern migration of sand and causes area beaches to suffer from a lack of sand.
“Another dynamic affecting area beaches is the lack of a projecting headland into the ocean which causes sand to accumulate and protect it from storms sweeping it to the south” explains S.O.S. member Dirk Ackema. For example, in La Jolla, the peninsula and Cove protect La Jolla Shores beach and allow an abundant accumulation of sand. In Oceanside, the Harbor breakwater acts as a headland to create a generous sandy beach at Camp Pendleton’s Del Mar beach. Bob Walker has considered other coastal community efforts, says
“Newport Beach has protected their beaches with a series of eight short groins projecting 30 yards into the surf within a one mile span. These rock structures prevent storm currents from sweeping sand away. Also, surfers favor breaks which are created by the groins.”
This research has lead !S.O.S.Oceanside! to recommend that a series of five short groins be considered for local beaches. Tyson Street, Wisconsin Street, Oceanside Boulevard, Buccaneer, and St Malo beaches offer access which would allow construction of groins. Contractor Mike Cantarini has built sea walls and groins says ” Riprap rock is placed on hard pack sand and extended to the low tide surf zone. The weather window has to be mild and it helps to have a negative tide working for us.” Once the groins are built they could be filled with sand from the annual harbor dredging to create beaches which are protected from the fierce currents of winter storms.
Environmental considerations and California Coastal Commission approvals would be required before any work is performed. S.O.S. Director Nick Ricci believes the City should hire an engineer to design groins and seek Coastal Commission permits. ” A budget for this project hasn’t been determined, but we are hopeful that SANDAG and The Army Corps of Engineers will contribute funds along with State tax revenue” adds Director Ricci.
Groins have proven to be very effective in Newport Beach and Coronado to retain sand and provide protection for private property. Despite the potential to protect beaches, a series of groins has never been built in North San Diego County. The group believes that it is critical to build these groins and study their effectiveness with the unique currents of our coastline. It will provide useful research to other coastal communities which are losing the fight to save their beaches. Membership in !S.O.S.Oceanside! is free and monthly meetings are held at Bagby Beer Company. More information is available at SOSOCEANSIDE.org .