Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cult of the Sand People

Sand replenishment is becoming a hot topic around these parts. The usual sand suspects are showing up and throwing their political weight around. There must be a lot of money in being a sand baron, otherwise why would anyone push sand replenishment so hard in a year where it's shaping up to be unnecessary?

Sometimes our local beaches get stripped of sand in the winter and the beach is dominated by cobble stones. This is when it's time to consider replenishing the beach with sand from dredging projects.

But 2007 isn't looking like one of those years. We've had a mild winter surf and storm wise. There is still a chance we could get a huge powerful north swell that could gobble up our sand, but right now we have p-lenty of sand. In fact, for most of our good surfing reef breaks, we still have too much sand.

Most importantly, this year our local kelp beds are just now recovering from near devastation. Kelp needs reef and rock to attach too. Kelp grows fast in cold water and the water has been below 60 degrees most of the winter. If you visit the beach regularly you can actually observe the kelp beds expanding in size daily.

Steve Aceti is our local sand lobbyist who many of you will remember as the #1 advocate of the doomed fake clean water tax, Prop C. Aceti championed Prop R back in the day, a tax slapped on our local hotel and motels in the interest of sand replenishment.

Encinitas mayor Jim Bond is a player here and so is our supervisor Pam Slater (read Slater's editorial in the NCT about sand here).

Visit the KPBS website for their story and interview with Aceti click here
KPBS reports "A pilot project six years ago piled sand on several county beaches. Now that sand is gone." This is shoddy reporting, the sand is not gone. Scroll down for photographic proof.

Now, vile NCT columnist Michael D Pattinson is jumping on the sand bandwagon in his newest column titled Thank bureaucrats for sandless beaches. This is an odd title considering that right now our beaches are NOT sandless and all the bureaucrats are pushing for sand. In fact, it was the bureaucrats that gave us the huge sand project of 2001.

The bureaucrats like Aceti, Bond and Slater would have you believe that all the 2001 sand is gone (they convinced the meaty brained Pattinson). But a quick trip to the beach reveals a different reality.

Aceti, Bond, Slater and Pattinson are probably too lazy to actually visit the beach, so I've been taking photos for them.

click photos for large view

Here we are in the Cardiff campgrounds looking north towards Swami's point. As you can see there are indeed cobble stones on the beach. Cobble stones strike fear into the hearts of the bureaucrats. However, the cobbles are scattered and harmless. There is enough sand for people to walk the entire stretch of the Encinitas coast. The few cobbles will be covered up this spring and summer naturally when we start to get south swells.

These photos were taken last Saturday, Feb 17th in the afternoon at low tide. You can see the exposed reefs next to the giant sandbars. This is a natural and a good thing. We want to see those reefs. Tourist like picking through them and checking out the cool animals that live in the tide pools and surfers like surfing over the reefs because reefs make good quality waves. The bureaucrats must remain calm and not rush to bury these reefs under tons of sand in panic.

This is a good view looking south, you can see La Jolla in the distance. Obviously, there is more than plenty of sand to walk on. You can see people walking and people hanging out on their beach towels. There is a ribbon of cobble stones but they are not impedeing anyone's enjoyment of the beach. By the way, it was 77 degrees when I took this photo!

Here is Beacon's Beach an hour after the 6.6 high tide on Sunday morning, Feb 18. Even on this big high tide you can still see the 2001 sand at the base of the bluff is dry.(*notice that the south reef kelp beds have not yet returned).

Another view of Beacon's. There is a small ribbon of cobble stones but even on this 6 ft+ high tide there is plenty of dry 2001 sand to stretch your towel out on.

But what about Solana Beach you ask? I took photos there too.

Solana Beach bluffs at high tide. There is still enough beach for the lifeguard trucks to drive on. The San Diego Union Tribune did a story about sand and Solana Beach recently. They published a photo of waves crashing into the bluffs. The photo was taken on one of the rare 7 ft high tides we get twice a year. Click here for SDUT story. They make it sound like the entire coast of Solana Beach is cobble stones, but there is only one small section of cobbles and it is at the base of some private stairs further south.

Pillbox beach in Solana Beach, lots of sand here.
*If Solana Beach wants sand they can have it. Let's give them sand that would otherwise by dumped on Encinitas beaches.

I supported the 2001 replenishment project. But, barring any major storm or powerful late season north swell we don't need to "replenish" this year. Maybe next year or the year after that. But right now with current sand levels and the fragile status of the kelp beds we don't need a big sand project.

Here is something I've wondered about, if the beaches do become once again dominated by cobble stones, would it be cheaper to remove the cobbles off the beach via bulldozers and then let sand naturally fill in?

The NCT published comments from bluff top property owners recently, read them here

Burning questions:

Who stands to personally make money from a 2007 sand replenishment project?

Why do the sand bureaucrats seem to believe that all the 2001 sand is gone?

Is anyone looking into other ways to stabilize our bluffs besides sand and seawalls? What about vegetation on the bluffs like deep rooted tomato plants?

Leucadia!: Sand


  1. No there is no other effective way to protect the bluffs without either a sandy beach or armoring with a wall.

    The beaches are almost gone when compared to pictures from the 70s and 80s...check the historic records.

    the natural sand source from the lagoons and bluff erosion are 90% shut down.

    Unless we blow out all the seawalls; and roads and railroad berms blocking the natural sand replenishment (that would be great!), the human sand replenishment is the best alternative to restore the balance of needed sand on the beaches.

  2. Don't bury the reefs!

  3. Everyone loves sand and our beaches. That is why we are here.

    It must be bandwagon time.

  4. I guess if I had to choose betweeen kelp and sand, I would choose sand.

    Beaches without sand are not fun to play on. Just look at how many people enjoy our beaches each day - especially on nice days, but even on cold days, IF there is sand on the beach.

    Hopefully, we can figure out a good way to mitigate the bad things about sand replenishment, but we should move forward. If we "wait until next year", the opportunity may be lost for various reasons.

  5. Why are people acting like there is no sand on the beach?

    At low tide right now there is over 100' of sand from bluffs to water, with only scattered cobblestones. Even 20 years ago there wasn't more sand than that.

  6. If Aceti is involved the whole thing smells like an open can of week old tuna.
    Follow the money because I'll bet he still owes money to the credit card company for the prop c expenses that he racked up.
    It's this kind of issue that keeps the doors open to his phoney coast organization.

  7. The basic transportation system for sand movement, the ocean, rose by 6.7 inches in the 20th century. The new report published February 2nd by the IPCC which quotes six models used for projections of global warming and sea level rise sets the guesstimate for sea level rise this century at between 28 and 43 cm. (11 to 16.9 inches). Trying to preserve the beaches with endless sand replenishment is futile and will only sufficate the near shore reef,kelp beds,and related marine life.

    There may be any number of reasons each of us chooses to live here but the first one is the climate.
    There are lots of places with sandier beaches in the world, there are only eight places in the world with our climate.

    If we(humans)manage to stablize carbon dioxide levels we can still expect sea levels to rise 30-80cm (11-33 inches) thru 2300.

    If we fail,it is possible that in time sea levels will reach levels 13-19 feet higher as they did between Ice Ages.

    Now how much armoring are we talking about talking about with these seawalls??

    yea, right!

  8. Don't be fooled by Pattinson. His agenda is to dump his leftover construction dirt on the beach and pretend it's sand.

  9. KPBS reports that the sand is gone but the photo on their own website clearly shows plenty of sand.

  10. You don't need to choose between sand and kelp. We have sand and the kelp is growing back. Look at the photos or better yet, go to the beach and see for yourself. Sure, there are scattered ribbons of cobble stones but everyone is making it sound like there is no sand at all. This is obviously false. The comments on the NCT Pattinson editorial are pretty frustrating. I guess the yuppies will insist on more sand even though we have sand. Either way, the aggressive sand people don't go to the beach and will stick to the golf course and the surfers lose.

  11. JP, excellent posts, photos, and follow-up. I was appalled when I read Michael Pattinson's, or Mick's, as he is known around City Hall, piece of work in this morning's NCT.

    Mick immediately resorts to character assasination, attempting to polarize our community and the experts against one another, calling EVERYONE "stoners" who doesn't support his agenda of dumping the maximum amount of sand that the Army Corps of Engineers wants to on beaches from Encinitas to Solana Beach, 1.2 million cubic yards, which equals 10.8, nearly 11 MILLION CUBIC FEET of sand on beaches that already have high levels of sand. The bottom flight of stairs at Stonesteps is completely covered with sand, as it is.

    He ends his diatribe, his greedy rant, with "You wonder what they have been smoking." What a jerk, and a spinmaster. He must think we are all idiots, and shows no respect at all for our ability to see through him, and Aceti.

  12. Yeah, Steve Aceti posts only under anonymous, now. He lost face with the loss of Prop C, when his phony Coastal Coalition was exposed as a lobbying arm of businesses, most of whom are convinced the more sand, the more profit they stand to make. They do not want to look at the facts; Gil is right.

    Now these spinmasters of deception are spamming this blog, again, trying to get us to hate the Coastal Commission, The Calif. Dept. of Fish & Game, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Scientists, public servants, in these organisations, and concerned citizens have asked and recommended the amount of sand be cut in half, at least.

  13. Right, let's not enable Michael Pattinson and Steve Aceti to make fools out of us by slyly employing catch words and phrases like "bandwagon" and "stoners," or "if I had to choose between kelp and sand."

    We do NOT have to choose. It's not black or white. We can have both: kelp to protect our wildlife and the surfbreak, and sand in moderation.

    This is a not so subtle dig on Stone Steps Crew and local surfers on all our beaches.

  14. The people posting here in favor of more sand this year either have not read the NCT column, or read JP's post and looked at the photos, checked the links, or even bothered to actually go to the beaches around here.

    I'm disappointed in Pam Slater, KPBS and NCT, also. Yes shoddy, but understandable with all the advertising money, "benefits" involved.

    So many people are selling out to deep pockets, political ambition, and greedy developers associated with our elected officials, now, both publically, and behind closed doors.

    Where have all the public servants gone, long time passing?

    What a sad joke.

  15. Yes, Steve Aceti is mercenary/sand lobbyist. Pattinson is a hired attack dog for the building industry, and Supervisor Slater rarely does her homework. It is also true none of the them are surfers or coastal geologists. These people are just recent players in the sand game.

    The real culprprits here are SANDAG and the Army Corp of Engineers. As a native of San diego's North County I can assure you the only beaches with year round, wide sandy beaches are Camp Pendelton's Del Mar beach, and the beach at the Oceanside harbor. This is because both of these beaches are located north of jetties. In fact the oceanside harbor beach sits between 2 jetties. If it wasn;t for the south jetty at Oceanside harbor that beach would be seasonal at best as it is there to channel the remains of the San Luis Rey River directy into the sea. Constructed in the early 60's, the Oceanside small craft harbor is not a natural body of water. The jetties that prevent the harbor from returning to it's natural state, which is a river delta/estuary, block sand from moving seasonally southward down the coast. The widest beach sits north of the Camp Pendelton jetties.

    Other man-made structures preventing natural sand replentishment in North County are the transportation corridors crossing the Buena vista Lagoon, Augua hedionda Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon, San Elijo Lagoon, and the San Dieguito River. Ecologically speacking these laggons are man made too, as they where estuaries before the railroad and roads block the natural process occurring.

    All these transportion corridors sit on earthen berms, that hinder or halt silt and sand from creeks and rivers making it to the coast without expensive dredging operations.

  16. There is sand on the beaches now. However, it is less than it was after the last sand replineshment project. The good news is that it lasted a long time. The bad news is that if the present trend continues, it will eventually be gone, and we will only have cobblestones on the beach, making it hard to enjoy for the vast majority of the population (residents or tourists).

    If we wait until then to start working on replenisment, it will take YEARS to get everything in place.

    This is called planning ahead, and that is what we need to do now, in my opinion.

  17. Winter is almost over and there are sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. South swells are only a month away and will bring in sand to cover the feared cobble stones.

  18. Bob- You must not have visited the beaches in the 70 and 80's. they were much wider. Especially around Moonlight.

    Your point about the RR and I5 berms blocking natural sand source from the rivers is right on. Without removing the berms/dikes, the natural sand will not flow to the beach and the beaches will continue to shrink to nothing. In my opinion sandy beaches are an asset to the public and need to be replentished to mitigate for the human damage from armoring the coas and the transporation berms (RR and Highway)

  19. Not all sand is the same. Different sand develops different morphology and can be better or worse for our beachbreaks.

  20. More distraction by the Aceti crowd, including Guerins.

    I was here in the late 70's and 80's. We have plenty of sand, now. We don't need sand replenishment this year.

    I notice the posters that keep bringing up "mitigation" read just like developers. There is plenty of sand at Moonlight right now, especially after the winter storms. You are comparing some imaginairy time in the past, we don't know at what imaginairy time of year, with right now, which is when the sand is at its lowest point. And still, it's fine, and kelp is showing signs of coming back.

    There is a reason the Fish & Game people, the experts suggest half as much, half of the nearly 11 million cubic feet that the Army Corps of Engineers wants to dump from Encintas to Solana Beach.

  21. Those people, or those lobbyists, wanting to keep on dumping maximum sand do not address JP's burning questions.

    Answer the questions, Aceti.

  22. The nattering nabobs of negativism are out in force again. Steve Aceti and his acolytes, along with Michael Pattinson, are pushing their agenda for more sand replenishment. They don't seem to have gone down to the beach to take a look, and they seem ignorant of the north Pacific oscillation which causes a climatic cycle of about forty years.

    Doesn't Aceti know that the Self Realization Fellowship temple fell into the ocean in 1941 under the onslaught of powerful winter storms? My parents used to talk about the wet, stormy years in San Diego during World War II. This was the approximately 20-year wet part of the cycle. Around 1953 the approximately 20-year dry cycle started. It ended in 1978 when Encinitas had record rainfall. In the next five years there was very heavy sand erosion. El niño conditions (every 5-7 years) play a secondary, but sometimes strong role, in the oscillation. El niño condtions have their origen in the tropics along the equator.

    We are now back in the dry cycle. The weather is dryer, calmer, and colder (as last month) with less powerful winter storms. The result is much less sand erosion on the beaches. The beaches are more typical of what we had in the 60s and 70s, not what we had in the 80s and 90s. J.P. is correct. We don't need to rush and dump a lot of sand on the beaches. With spring arriving the sand on the beaches will start to rebuild. This is normal. Let's not let the sandhogs stampede us into an expensive program when it's not needed.


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