With over six miles of coastline, the beach is a way of life in the City of Encinitas. The Coastal Zone Program aims to responsibly manage these coastal resources to benefit our community, as well as local habitats. This program deals with concerns regarding the environment, climate change, sea level rise, commerce, recreation, hazardous weather impacts, aesthetics, quality of life, water, erosion, and more. The program incorporates the latest research, grants, projects, and partnerships allowing adaptation to our changing conditions to maintain our coastline as a thriving ecological and recreational resource for generations to come.
Coastal Erosion & How We Manage It
Coastal erosion is a natural process that involves the steady removal of sediment and erosion of the shoreline along coastal bluffs, the base is eroded until it can no longer support the above sediment, resulting in a bluff failure or collapse. This sediment then becomes a new source of sand for the underlying beach as the shoreline retreats. A less apparent cause for bluff failures are surface or subsurface waters traveling over or within the bluff, respectively. Traveling surface waters can cause surface erosion that gouges the face along a bluff. Subsurface waters will travel between the different layers of the sediment along a bluff, thereby adding more weight to the bluff itself, leading to its collapse.
This process has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change and the disturbance of sand sources. The rise in sea levels results in narrower beaches that allow for more wave energy to be exerted on coastal bluffs while the construction of dams along California has blocked vital river sediment from reaching the coast and nourishing our beaches.
The consequences of coastal erosion are highly apparent in the community. Receding bluffs can cause instability to upland structures and the sporadic nature of bluff failures present a significant hazard to those below, including people and structures.
There are a number of management practices that can be implemented in response to coastal erosion. One of the most prominent types that the City of Encinitas employs is beach sand nourishment in which beach sand is transported from another source, either inland or dredged from a lagoon, harbor, or offshore, to a narrowing beach site of a compatible sand size. Another form of beach sand nourishment is soft shoreline stabilization which incorporates natural materials to minimize impacts to natural processes once constructed. The Cardiff Beach Living Shoreline Project is an example of soft shoreline stabilization. Other practices include the purposeful, coordinated movement of buildings and people away from the shoreline as it naturally shifts inland.