Del Mar Council OKs permit for replacement sea wall

Homeowners appear to be on track to replace this sea wall near 29th Street in Del Mar, a proposal that often leads to conflicts in many California coastal communities.
Homeowners appear to be on track to replace this sea wall near 29th Street in Del Mar, a proposal that often leads to conflicts in many California coastal communities.
(Phil Diehl)

A plan put forward by two property owners to replace a 120-foot section of a dilapidated sea wall constructed in 1983 was approved unanimously by the Del Mar City Council at its meeting on Monday, March 6.

The project, which also must undergo review by the California Coastal Commission, involves the construction of 100 feet of sea wall along properties at 2828 and 2820 Ocean Front, as well as 20 feet of replacement sea wall on public property at the end of 29th Street.

Two additional sea wall projects – at 2938 Sandy Lane and 2928 Camino Del Mar – are pending, and expected to come before the council in early April, according to city staff.

The project at Ocean Front would consist of vertical steel sheet piles with a concrete cap, according to a staff report, which is consistent with the Beach Preservation Initiative, a law approved by Del Mar voters in 1988.

Walter Crampton, an engineer working on the project for property owners Matt Coleman and Charles and Lynn Gaylord, said the new sea wall is designed to last for 75 years.

“It’s a very robust design,” Crampton said.

The wall would be built on private property, except for the section at the end of 29th Street, according to a staff report, and consist of a concrete cap, of about 11 feet in height, although some of that would be embedded in sand. Below that, the steel sheet piles would extend an additional 28 feet down, according to the report.

Council members approved the project with little discussion after hearing reports by city staff and the project engineer.

City Councilman Dave Druker said the city wants a continuous sea wall along the beach, and the existing wall at the project site should have been replaced long ago.

“I think its important we approve this and ask other people to come forward and get their sea walls approved,” Druker said.

“This is really the ideal solution for us,” said Councilman Dwight Worden. “It’s in strict compliance with the (Beach Preservation Initiative), they’re not asking to use any public property, they’re building a state-of-the-art sea wall that’s going to be safe and attractive and work well.”

“This is what I hope is a precedent for other people on the beach on how to do it right,” said Worden, a former Del Mar city attorney who worked with the citizens group that put the Beach Preservation Initiative on the ballot.

According to city staff, the wall will be similar in appearance to other recently approved sea walls south of 29th Street, and the concrete would be colored to match the appearance of beach sand.

In February, the city’s Design Review Board approved the design of the proposed sea wall on a 7-0 vote, said the staff report.

The section of sea wall to be replaced is part of a 290-foot-long sea wall built in 1983, said the staff report. “The existing wall has become extremely deteriorated over the years and shows signs of extreme corrosion and has become perforated causing loss of fill from behind the wall,” said the report.

As part of the project, the southern half of the sea wall at the end of 29th Street will also be replaced, including an all-weather stairway for beach access.

The owner of the property at 2828 Ocean Front, Matt Coleman, elected to extend the sea wall onto 29th Street, rather than building a wall along the north edge of his property, because it will be easier to construct and more cost-effective, said the report.

The new sea wall will also eliminate a “jog” where the existing sea wall connects at 29th Street, to reduce “edge waves” that may occur and cause damage to private property and the beach, said the report.

A letter included with the council agenda said that Coleman will share the cost of the 29th Street portion of the project with the applicant for the sea wall project at 3928 Camino Del Mar, one of the two projects pending with the city. The letter from attorney Julie Hamilton said the estimated cost for 10 feet of sea wall plus the public access stairway is $85,133.

The letter also suggests that replacement of the northern half of the 29th Street sea wall be paid for by future applicants for sea wall projects.

The city staff report notes that all costs for the sea wall project will be paid for by the applicants.


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