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

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. In 2020, the project began the pre-construction, engineering, and design phase. The project requires baseline conditions of the shoreline environment to be monitored, so future improvements can be documented and tracked. Funding is comprised of local, state, and federal sources and was previously delayed due to outstanding circumstances, including 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 Monitoring

Encinitas is home to Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), a state marine protected area (MPA) that spans from approximately Moonlight Beach to South Cardiff State Beach and 3 miles of ocean westward from our beaches. 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 Beach in partnership with the designer 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 Living Shoreline

The Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline Project—substantially completed in 2019,—created a coastal dune with repurposed buried rock revetment and cobblestone, 30,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the San Elijo Lagoon inlet, native seeds, and volunteer-based management. 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.

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 as bladderpod, boxthorn, and sea dahlia—the coastal bluff provides rare habitat for coastal species and beautifies the trail. The restoration program also includes a pilot project which uses washed up kelp to encourage natural dune formation in addition to utilizing citizen scientists to increase engagement with beach and bluff stewardship. The restoration program was approved by the Planning Commission in February of 2021 and work began in the fall of 2021.

Beach Sand Replenishment

In 2017, CalTrans and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) initiated construction of the North Coast Corridor (NCC) Project in the cities of Solana Beach, Encinitas, and Carlsbad. Build NCC is part of a comprehensive set of transportation, environmental, and coastal access projects that includes the widening of Interstate-5 and the freeway bridge over San Elijo Lagoon, installation of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, double tracking the railway line, development of bike corridors and pedestrian trails, and habitat restoration within the San Elijo Lagoon.

As part of the project, beach sand replenishment at Cardiff State Beach occurred in 2018, reusing the sediment that was removed during the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project. Though the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project was substantially completed in 2019, the final sediment used to support construction of the Interstate-5 freeway bridge still needed to be removed and repurposed. In 2020, the City initiated discussions with Caltrans and SANDAG, in addition to the permitting agencies, to complete the Restoration Project with a second sand nourishment project to Cardiff State Beach and Moonlight State Beach. In 2021, initiation of the removal of the remaining sediment, totaling 70,000 cubic yards of beach-quality Torrey Sandstone material, began. The material is slated to be dredged and piped to Cardiff State Beach or hauled to Moonlight State Beach. The project is anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2022.