Solana Beach moving ahead on plans for beach-area repair projects

By Joe Tash

Solana Beach is moving forward on plans to replace the deteriorated access stairway to its southern beach near Del Mar Shores, and repair a stairway at Tide Beach Park, for a total cost of about $1.5 million.

The City Council discussed the two projects at its meeting on Wednesday, June 12, and gave direction to staff on a potential funding plan for the projects.

The stairway at Del Mar Shores was built in the 1970s, and closed last November, after a city consultant found it does not meet minimum building code requirements for public use.

Removing the existing stairs and replacing them will cost between $750,000 and $1 million, according to a staff report. Replacement of the handrails and other work on the Tide Beach Park stairs will cost $150,000. With contingency funds budgeted for unforeseen expenses, the total for both projects is $1.5 million.

The city plans to put the projects out to bid and come back to the council at a later date for final approval of the work.

A permit issued by the California Coastal Commission for the work will expire in January, and if construction does not start by then, the city would likely have to reapply for the permit, according to a staff report.

Plans for the replacement of the Del Mar Shores stairway include a new platform where a lifeguard station would be located. That would be the only change from the existing stairway, according to city staff.

City staff has proposed funding the projects from a variety of sources, including beach recreation fees collected by the San Diego Association of Governments; public recreation fees collected by the city; and the city’s capital improvement fund. The city has also applied for a $200,000 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, and has been approached by community members who have offered to assist with private fundraising.

About half of the project would be funded by a $737,000 loan — to be repaid with interest — from the city’s general fund reserves. The council agreed with a staff proposal to pay back the loan over a period of several years from Transient Occupancy Taxes, which are charged to hotel guests.

A detailed financing plan will be presented to the council when the project comes back for final approval.