By Marlena Chavira-Medford
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is proposing a project that would involve taking sand from a 124-acre site off Del Mar’s coast and using it to replenish beaches throughout North County — a plan that raises many concerns for the City of Del Mar.
The plan, known as the San Diego Regional Beach Sand Project II, would dredge 1.8 to 2.7 million cubic yards of sand from three offshore locations in Mission Beach, Del Mar and Cardiff, and transplant the sand to 11 beach sites in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, San Diego and Imperial Beach.
After reviewing SANDAG’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project, Del Mar city staff pointed out several concerns, including: How the loss of sand could change Del Mar beach profiles and wave patterns; the noise and visual impacts on residents during the work period; and the impact this would have on the soon-to-be completed San Dieguito Lagoon restoration project. A handful of residents also spoke out against the project, echoing those concerns.
During a presentation to city council Feb. 22, SANDAG representatives addressed some of those concerns. According to SANDAG findings, the dredging would have no impact on Del Mar beaches because the 124-acre site is about half a mile off the coast, which is farther out than the natural wash pattern of sand, known as its closure depth. SANDAG representatives also said the project would not affect waves because the dredging would only cut about 5 to 7 feet into the seabed, which isn’t significant enough to have an impact on waves.
SANDAG representatives also pointed out that one of the reasons for this project is that the state of California has asked local coastal governments to come up with adaptation strategies for the rising sea levels. This project, they said, would offset those rising levels by adding sand to areas that have been depleted, providing a larger buffer and giving communities more time to plan for higher sea levels.
Though several of the city council members said they could see the potential benefits of the project, they had hesitations about the fact that the majority of the 1.8 to 2.7 million cubic yards of sand will come from Del Mar.
“My concern is I think it’s an overuse of a resource,” said councilman Terry Sinnott. “Over 70 percent of the sand in this project is coming from one site. I would feel much more comfortable if it were spread a little more equitable up and down the coast.”
Del Mar Mayor Don Mosier agreed, saying SANDAG was proposing to take a disproportionate amount of sand from Del Mar.
“If this goes through, Del Mar is being a wonderful neighbor to all of the north coast cities because we’re donating almost all of the sand for this entire replenishment project,” he said. “As much as I’d like to be that good neighbor, I think that’s an excessive take of sand.”
Therefore, Del Mar city staff plans to write a letter in response to SANDAG’s EIR asking that it explore the option of taking less sand from Del Mar and more sand from other sites along the coast. The letter will also outline its other concerns, and ask that SANDAG research other alternatives to this dredging project.