Over the years, storms, high tides, large swells and the ongoing impact of sea level rise resulted in erosion that reduced vehicle access to San Onofre State Park’s historic Surf Beach. In response, California State Parks obtained an emergency permit from the California Coastal Commission to build a riprap revetment at San Onofre State Beach. Despite the fact that winter threats had passed and the beach was rebuilding, State Parks went ahead with installing the revetment in the spring. Under the conditions of the emergency permit, the revetment must be fully permitted by the Coastal Commission or removed in November. The Surfrider Foundation is opposed to the revetment because it will cause the beach to narrow and will likely impact the surf in front of the wall. Surfrider advocates for a plan that will maintain the road and protect the beach and waves.

The destructive impacts of shoreline armoring, including revetments, on beaches are well known and include:

  • Placement loss: loss of the beach area that is buried under the revetment
  • Impoundment loss: trapping of sediment that would otherwise contribute to the beach
  • Passive erosion: Fixing the “back” of the beach as the sea level rises, narrowing the beach on the seaward side
  • Active erosion: causing rebound and “end around” effects that exacerbate erosion
  • Visual & aesthetic impacts: Revetments are ugly and detract from natural beauty of the beach
  • Beach access: Revetments can make access to the beach more difficult
  • Seasonal extremes: The beach may “recover” in the summer, giving the impression that the revetment hasn’t impacted the beach, winter waves will have an exponential opposite effect, stripping the sand away at a faster rate than normal.

Instead of the destructive revetment, Surfrider Foundation is advocating for alternative solutions that would work with the coastal systems, such as the use of cobble and sand fill, to stabilize the road without harming the beach.

The current State Parks’ emergency permit clearly states that the revetment must be temporary. The current permit expires in six months, after which, State Parks is required to remove the revetment or to apply for a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) through the California Coastal Commission to allow for any long-term construction or management of the beach and access at San Onofre. The CDP will require additional analysis, public input and a public hearing.

Surfrider plans to push for a long-term plan that incorporates established sea level rise guidelines and includes the general public, local surfing organizations and other key stakeholders.

For inquires please contact: Jennifer Savage | California Policy Manager | Surfrider Foundation (707) 267-8458 | jsavage@surfrider.org

Photo by Ryan Loughlin on Unsplash

Seawalls Kill Beaches Surfrider Foundation