Council OKs sea wall, plans for La Colonia

A sea wall longer than two football fields was approved by the City Council March 11.

The 660-foot-long wall spans 10 properties north of Fletcher Cove and is expected to support the unstable bluffs, which experts say could dangerously give way at any time.

“This is not a very comfortable thing to approve,” Mayor Mike Nichols said. “It’s been acknowledged sea walls and infills are termed necessary evils.”

For the first five homes, the wall will range to a maximum height of 20 feet where many sea caves have been previously filled in but are now starting to erode. The northernmost five properties required a 35-foot-tall sea wall with removable tie-backs.

The 10 property owners applied for the wall under one permit, citing economies of scale and aesthetic benefits in building the entire wall at one time, rather than piecemeal. If approved by the California Coastal Commission, the wall will be constructed after the summer.

The wall will not be straight across, but will undulate with the bluffs, and be textured to look as natural as possible.

The property owners will be required to pay one-third of the city’s sea wall mitigation fee deposit, which is $1,000 per linear foot, or in this case, a third of $660,000. The remainder must be paid over the life of the wall, though the final figure could be revised up or down depending on the city’s fee studies currently under way.

The approval comes after years and years of “frustration” trying to get Coastal Commission support for a wall that fully protects the bluffs, said resident Ben Bloom, who disagreed with the stigma associated with sea walls.

“It’s a new era for homeowners,” he said. “Once the LCP/LUP (Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan) is done, we’ll finally take on more of a role to get things done.”

The Local Coastal Program, currently under review by the Coastal Commission and city staff, calls for sea walls to be removed by 2081.

La Colonia Park plans approved

After a yearlong design process with a great deal of public input, the City Council approved the conceptual plans to make La Colonia Park a top-notch gathering space for the community.

The final plans retain the large field, improve the half basketball court and play structure, relocate the Civic and Historical Society museum, reconfigure the parking lot, expand the community center and add a small skate feature, more picnic tables, a gazebo and large entry plaza.

The $4.4 million project can be built in two phases: the elements around the field, and the parking lot and community center area. Van Dyke Architects, the firm that designed the plans, is expected to draw up the engineering documents so once the city secures funding, the project can be built.

All in good fun

For the first time in many years, Solana Beach prevailed over Del Mar in the Del Mar Solana Beach Sunrise Rotary bocce tournament on March 9. Solana Beach Mayor Mike Nichols and City Manager David Ott beat Del Mar Mayor Crystal Crawford and Deputy Mayor Richard Earnest 8 to 6.

Nichols was lightheartedly surprised to learn the victory came only with bragging rights, not a trophy. He remedied the situation by buying a small bocce trophy that can now sit on the dais of the city that wins the annual tournament.