Relief is coming in the form of sand replenishment for San Clemente’s eroding beaches following the official seal of approval for the long-delayed shoreline protection project on Tuesday night, December 20.
The City Council approved a project partnership agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers for the San Clemente Shoreline Project as the Corps finalizes plans for the first of several phases to begin in late 2023, according to city staff. Giving
Over the next 50 years, approximately 250,000 cubic yards of sand would be placed on the beach from Linda Lane to T-Street, approximately every six years, to create a new beach area 3,700 feet long and 50 feet wide.
A Corps of Engineers contractor will use a hopper dredge to take sand from the north of Oceanside Harbor — where the area contains large grains of sand that are expected to linger on San Clemente’s beach — to transport it to the city’s beach. Move to a nearby piping system. And pump the sand to the beach.
“It’s very positive for the city,” said Public Works Director Kiel Koger. “After more than 20 years of dealing with CORE trying to get this project started, we see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Koger said the month-long first phase is expected to begin around November 2023, for which the city has already secured nearly $5 million in state grants to fund the project. Staff estimated that San Clemente would still owe $657,638, a tentative figure until the project bids for contractors around February 2023.
“We actually have more grant (funds) that we can use,” Koger said. “It’s actually a good thing. If costs go up, we’ll have a few hundred thousand dollars extra that we can use for our part of the project.
Responding to a question from Mayor Pro Tem Steve Knoblock, Koger also said the project’s contract language did not prevent the city from seeking additional projects to address nutrition at other beaches within San Clemente.
Knoblock also asked Koger to provide clarity about a clause in the agreement that does not oblige the city to provide funding in subsequent phases if it encounters a hardship. Knoblock wondered whether “difficulty” was a hard threshold to reach in terms of possible budget constraints, for example.
“I can’t really give you a definition, but it’s something I asked to be added to the contract,” Koger said. “I felt like if we were in a recession or something and we couldn’t come up with our share, I didn’t want us to be obligated.”
Council member Victor Cabral asked how employees would address the plan to provide their share in the future, as both the federal government and San Clemente are expected to contribute 50% of the project cost. The federal government allocated $9.3 million, or 65%, of the $14 million total for the first phase.
Koger said the city will continue to go after grants from organizations such as the California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW). DBW provided more than $4.4 million in grants to support the first phase, as part of the funding opportunities available each year for cities like San Clemente to apply.
The city is also awaiting the results of a nature-based feasibility study, which is being conducted by several engineering firms, including Moffett and Nicol, that will look into strategies for retaining the sand.
According to the staff report, the city will seek additional solutions to replenish San Clemente’s beaches through a number of actions, including participating in a regional Strategic Coastal Resilience Committee, chaired by outgoing Orange County Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett started.
With Katrina Foley set to be re-elected to represent the Fifth District, and with uncertainty surrounding the future of that committee, Council directed staff to monitor related developments. Cabral expressed his thoughts regarding those efforts.
“Alternatively, it’s something we should look at internally… keep in mind, maybe in our subcommittee,” Cabral said.
Mayor Chris Duncan agreed, saying the council could address the matter at a future meeting after discussing committee appointments.
Duncan thanked residents, as well as past and present city employees, for their work on the long-standing issue of bringing the project into motion.