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Urgent: Save San Clemente’s Beaches From More Boulders on May 30!

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)  just released a new report that reveals a plan to armor almost half of San Clemente's public beaches, including:

  • A northern segment from the south end of North Beach through the north end of Linda Lane;
  • State Beach from north of Calafia Beach Park all the way down to the Cyprus Shores landslide.

OCTA intends to begin construction this Fall, and shockingly avoid doing environmental review.

If you’ve visited South San Clemente’s beaches lately, you may have noticed the 26,000 tons of riprap armoring placed on the beach in 2021 and 2022 to protect the railway adjacent to Cyprus Shores HOA, shown above. OCTA constructed the riprap armoring under emergency permits in response to an erosion event and landslide to protect the railway. It stretches over 800 feet long and up to 50 feet wide, consuming most of the dry sand space and rang in at a cost of approximately $8M.

The new plan will expand this armoring by adding 77,000 tons of riprap to State Beach. The new revetment that will be 50 feet wide and two-thirds of a mile long, taking up most of the sandy beach space. This will triple the amount of boulders in the area and destroy the beach! Shockingly, OCTA's new plan will cost $200M+ to shore up the erosion ”hotspots” along the railway.

Since the release of the new report, called the Initial Assessment, OCTA held a series of online “listening sessions”, where public outcry overwhelmingly denounced the proposed destruction of San Clemente’s beaches and the lack of consideration of nature based solutions. In response, OCTA released a statement that they intend to add sand nourishment to the plan. However, in their proposal, the sand nourishment would not reduce the amount of riprap boulders. The poorly designed plan could be a waste of sand. It comes across as a half hearted attempt to sprinkle some sand into their seawall project. That sand could easily be swept offshore given the lack of beach space and extent of the riprap.

On May 30 from 5-6:30pm, OCTA is hosting an in-person final public workshop on their plan to armor the City’s beaches.  The meeting will be held at San Clemente City Hall, 910 Calle Negocio. 

The public will be invited to give comments. This is an important opportunity to let OCTA know that we demand a better solution for San Clemente’s beaches! We are asking all beach goers, surfers, locals, and visitors to attend and send a strong message to OCTA that we reject their plan to armor our public beaches. We suggest the following talking points:

  • I reject OCTA’s plan to armor San Clemente’s beaches with boulders, which will only make erosion worse.
  • The plan to line State Beach with an up to 50-foot wide seawall, two thirds of a mile long, is unacceptable and excessive. The revetment would completely occupy the remaining beach. 
  • The last minute addition to add sand in front of the 50-foot seawall at State Beach and other locations seems designed to fail with no space for the sand to settle. 
  • Popular surf breaks at State Beach could be destroyed. A surf impact analysis needs to be done before this project moves forward, along with full environmental review. 
  • Boulders kill beaches! Waves crashing against vertical surfaces such as a revetment create turbulence and prevent the sediment from settling into beach space. This has been well documented by coastal geomorphologists. The boulders take up beach space where the sandy beach should be.
  • As sea levels rise, we need to be thinking creatively about how we can make space for the beach to migrate landward, not line our beaches with riprap until the beaches completely disappear, and the surf along with it. 
  • I demand that OCTA protects its tracks with nature-based solutions, not boulders!
  • OCTA’s armoring proposal is unnecessary and does not qualify for an exemption from environmental review. OCTA must meaningfully consider all alternatives that will not destroy the public’s beach.

The full Initial Report report can be viewed on the OCTA website.  The presentation to the OCTA Board (with additional information) can be viewed here (on the bottom index, click on Item #17 “Emergency Coastal Projects.” 

OCTA is asking for workshop participants to register here.