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Save Capistrano Beach!

11 • 16 • 2022

Save Capistrano Beach!

Capistrano Beach nature-based project approved after decades of poor planning, emergency permits and replace emergency armoring!

At least 9 emergency permits have been granted to Orange County Parks over the past decade and a half. Notably, the County has been granted several emergency permits that included hard armoring and sand cubes, all of which remains today, unpermitted:

  • In February 2007 for 450 square feet of riprap; 
  • in December 2015 for 240 square feet of riprap; 
  • in March 2015 for 240 square feet of riprap; 
  • in March 2016 for 815 square feet of riprap; 
  • in December 2018 for 416 square feet of geotextile sand cubes, riprap installed prior to permit and to remove structures; and
  • in 2019 for placement of additional geotextile sand cubes.

All of these emergency installations should have been removed by now and have been in violation of their emergency approval conditions for years. Instead of planning for and enacting long term solutions, the County has instead chosen to abuse the emergency permit system. The revetments in place have vastly exceeded their intended duration, and are now becoming various forms of pollution. Clearly, the emergency revetments haven’t worked in the past, and won’t work now. Even as recently as July 1, 2020, the County applied for additional emergency permits for more riprap boulders and removal of crumbling sidewalk. 

Capistrano Beach should be thought of not as a problem, but as a possibility to come up with creative solutions that the rest of the state can model. Our coastlines and beaches are central to the identity of Orange County, and the state at large. The continual encroachment and building up to the shoreline has cost us many beaches that we won’t be able to recover, but Capistrano Beach gives us the opportunity to reclaim some of that beach. Sea level rise and adaptation measures are hot issues up and down the state.

Surfrider demanded that the Coastal Commission deny additional emergency permits and retention of any shoreline armoring on site at Capistrano Beach and instead create a nature-based adaptation project that will be available for public access for decades to come.

At the November 16, 2022 Coastal Commission meeting, the Commission approved OC Park's nature-based pilot project that Surfrider pushed them to evaluate and design for the North Reach of Capistrano Beach. Unfortuntaely, the Commission also approved riprap armoring at the South Reach of the beach to protect the existing parking lot in place for seven years, at which point the permit will expire and OC Parks will need to reevaluate expansion of the nature-based project. Moving forward, Surfrider will be pushing for an expansion of the nature based project to the South Reach of the beach as well!