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Mayor Cabral Discusses ‘Sand, Sand, Sand’ at State of the City Luncheon

The San Clemente Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City Luncheon on Friday, May 3, heavily concerned sand nourishment.

Posted on May 13, 2024

As has been the case throughout the first four months of 2024, the topic of sand dominated the conversation during the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City Luncheon on Friday, May 3.

Keynote speaker Mayor Victor Cabral spoke of the efforts necessary to restart the San Clemente Shoreline Project, the City of San Clemente’s other initiatives to bring sand to its beaches, and its collaboration with local, state and federal authorities along the way. Cabral also touched on the City Council’s efforts over the past year relating to public safety, another top priority.

City Manager Andy Hall, contract Coastal Administrator Leslea Meyerhoff, Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, Rep. Mike Levin, and Fifth District Supervisor Katrina Foley were the ones Cabral mentioned by name as contributors in various capacities toward bringing the project back online.

The duo of Cabral and Hall hit the ground running in late December 2023 once Cabral was appointed mayor, acting quickly to express the city’s disappointment with the cobble being dredged onto San Clemente’s main beach soon after the Shoreline Project began.

After the calendar turned to 2024, Cabral said, the two met and decided Hall needed to shift his priorities.

“I want you to spend 80% of your time on sand replenishment and sand retention, because that’s what San Clemente is really about,” Cabral remembered telling Hall.

With all the work exerted by the aforementioned parties, the city eventually succeeded in obtaining the necessary permits, and project contractor Manson Construction began laying sand in late April. What could’ve taken a year or more based on estimates Cabral received from government officials took only a few months, he added.

Luncheon attendees also watched a video made by the city and voiced over by Cabral about the challenge San Clemente faces with its loss of beach resources.

The lack of sand delivered from the San Juan Creek, the city’s only natural source due to a variety of manmade and natural constraints, has caused a “serious sand supply shortage,” Cabral said in the video.

“With this knowledge and understanding, the City of San Clemente has been proactively developing a coastal resiliency toolbox, which includes beach sand replenishment at its foundation,” he added.

In addition to the ongoing first phase of the Shoreline Project that will place roughly 125,000 cubic yards of sand this summer, with the rest to come in November, San Clemente is also pursuing a Sand Compatibility and Opportunistic Use Program and collaborations with the County of Orange and other authorities to bring sand to its coastline.

Cabral described the city’s public beaches as low-cost recreational opportunities that provide habitats for local biological life and economic boosts. Additionally, the city’s support in protecting critical public infrastructure such as the railroad tracks through town can’t come at the cost of the beach, he continued.

“That is a price we are not willing to pay,” Cabral said. “There is a better alternative than simply dumping more and more rock, and that is sand, sand, sand.”

Following his main presentation, Cabral stayed to answer questions from the public, much of them concerning sand. He also took one regarding the Orange County Transportation Authority’s consideration of placing riprap and revetment along the coastline to protect its railroad tracks.

Cabral referenced Andy Hall’s appearance in front of the California Senate Transportation Subcommittee on LOSSAN (Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo) Rail Corridor Resiliency on April 29, as well as other examples of people “putting pressure” on authorities to recognize that “rocks (are) not the solution.”

“But let me just tell you this about OCTA: OCTA’s primary responsibility has always been getting the roads up and running when there’s a problem and getting the trains running as soon as possible,” he said. “The way that they had always done that is (say), ‘OK, put some revetment on.’ ”

The agency has reached the proper conclusion, Cabral continued, adding that he believes OCTA is on the city’s side.

Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Napuri, present on behalf of Supervisor Foley, took a moment to inform the audience that Foley would be traveling to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, May 7, to speak with California’s Congressional delegation about receiving more funding for sand nourishment, among other topics.

Cabral echoed the sentiment of exhausting all angles to receive the funding necessary to pay for the 7 million cubic yards of sand the city needs to restore its beaches, according to coastal engineers.

“Hopefully, if I’m able to do anything this year, in my one year as mayor, we’ll make significant progress on our beaches, and we will have a place where we can all enjoy the city,” he said. “I think it’s going to happen.”

Concerning public safety, the mayor referenced the council’s approval of bringing in private security and creating a new sheriff’s deputy position in 2023 to prioritize enforcing ordinances, especially relating to behaviors such as drinking alcohol or camping on public beaches.

Progress has been steady, as the number of people living on the streets in San Clemente has decreased from roughly 120 people in spring 2023 to closer to three dozen now. That change hasn’t just resulted from further enforcement and vigilance, Cabral continued, but due to the efforts of Community Outreach Workers to provide services and place people in housing.

He also mentioned a recent trip to D.C. to attend the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing of oral arguments inCity of Grants Pass v. Johnson, for which the city filed an amicus curiae brief on March 4. The case concerns the constitutionality of anti-camping ordinances concerning people without access to shelter at night.

“We decided, as a city, to file a brief in that case to outline the complicated nature of the problem (in relation to) the unhoused, and how our hands as a city have been extraordinarily tied because of those decisions, and how it’s the wrong decision,” Cabral said. “It makes no sense for small cities and certain cities.”

San Clemente would be more efficient in addressing people sleeping outside, he continued, adding that he felt the Supreme Court would reverse the lower court’s decision.

To close, Cabral shared how he felt deeply honored and blessed to serve the city.

“I hope I’m doing the right thing for the city,” he said. “Not everybody will agree with me all the time, but I’m making my best judgment as to what the city needs.”


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