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Carlsbad remains wary of Oceanside sand nourishment pilot project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts a yearly dredging of the Oceanside Harbor inlet.

Posted on April 17, 2023

The City Council unanimously opposed actively participating in the City of Oceanside’s sand nourishment pilot project during its April 11 meeting, remaining opposed to any plans that may obstruct the natural flow of sand down the San Diego County coastline.

However, the Carlsbad City Council agreed to request a city staffer be present during the neighboring city’s proposed pilot project meetings and design competitions.

Last year, the Oceanside City Council moved forward with plans for sand replenishment on its depleted beaches, which included a controversial option of building groins. They also discussed artificial reefs and other “innovative designs” to hold as much sand as possible.

In January, the Oceanside City Council approved moving to Phase 2, which includes a design jury for innovative designs and selecting council members as non-voting panelists to discuss specifics of the options available to the coastal cities.

The cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar each passed resolutions opposing the groins and any other structure obstructing or preventing the natural flow of sand down the coastline. However, Del Mar sent a letter to Oceanside supporting moving to Phase 2.

“They indicated they wanted Carlsbad’s involvement,” said Kyle Lancaster, Carlsbad’s parks and recreation director. “We wanted to be involved in some way … and reiterated council’s resolution.”

According to Lancaster, the California Coastal Commission would have to approve any decision passed by the Oceanside City Council or the panel. Lancaster said the design competition jury would consist of six to seven members, while the advisory committee would have three to five, assuming enough cities come on board.

Lancaster said Oceanside had contacted Del Mar about the jury and panel, although he was unaware if any other city had been approached.

Councilwoman Teresa Acosta said, like all the council members, she stands by the resolution passed in January 2022, noting this avenue is not in Carlsbad’s interest.

“We pushed back and we don’t like the idea of groins … but talked about other things like collaboration,” Acosta said. “Sand is not a one city issue.”

Carlsbad City Manager Scott Chadwick also discussed the possibility of dredging, typically done annually in the Oceanside Harbor and Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad. However, one challenge is the lack of availability of dredges, one of which is stationed on the East Coast and would have to travel through the Panama Canal, while another is located in the Pacific Northwest.

Oceanside dredges tons of sand from the harbor yearly in coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers. In contrast, Agua Hedionda Lagoon is dredged by NRG Energy, which required the action to work with its former power plant’s inflows and outflows for cooling.

Oceanside’s beaches have lost much of their sand over recent years despite the city conducting annual dredging operations at Oceanside Harbor — most of the replacement sand is quickly washed away.

Oceanside has an 80-year history of sand erosion resulting from the Camp Pendleton boat basin construction during World War II and the city’s small craft harbor in 1963. Since the harbor’s construction, over 20 million cubic yards of sand have been placed on Oceanside’s beaches to restore the shoreline.


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