Coastal Commission approves short-term fix for Capistrano Beach in Dana Point

OC Parks sought a Coastal Development Permit to add shoreline protective devices to Capistrano Beach County Park.

DANA POINT—The California Coastal Commission in an 8-to-2 vote on Dec. 9 approved a Coastal Development Permit for OC Parks to place shoreline protective devices at Capistrano Beach County Park in Dana Point. As part of the permit, OC Parks will need to come to the commission in one year, with an option to extend an additional year given the county has made progress, with a master plan and update for how they will address the challenges the shoreline is facing.

The permit gives OC Parks a temporary fix to protect the shore from damage from storms and high tides while they come up with a master plan for Capistrano Beach Park’s future. Capistrano Beach has sustained considerable damage and erosion in recent years as storms and waves have damaged public walkways, a public restroom, basketball court, parking spaces, public beach showers, fire pits and more.

“I will be supporting this reluctantly, because in my mind this is a classic example of the present and future impacts of sea-level rise,” Vice-Chair Donne Brownsey said during the Dec. 9 discussion, which spanned about two hours.

OC Parks sought after-the-fact authorization for the removal of these damaged amenities, all of which have been demolished and removed from the site pursuant to emergency permits. OC Parks has indicated that replacement of the removed public beach amenities is under consideration for inclusion within the pending master plan for the park.

OC Parks also sought coastal commission approval for the installation of shoreline protective devices including approximately 870 linear feet of sandcubes and installation of approximately 840 linear feet of armor rock along the seaward edge of the coastal trail and park facilities.

Segments of shoreline protective devices currently exist onsite, mostly installed pursuant to approved emergency permits, to protect coastal dependent uses, including a public beach parking lot, a coastal trail and coastal viewing areas, from substantial damage and erosion.

The width of the sandy/cobble beach onsite currently ranges from zero feet to approximately 100 feet. During high tides and/or storm events, the amenities onsite are subject to overtopping and erosion.

Many commissioners expressed they were reluctant to approve the permit but felt there was no other feasible alternative.

“We feel there is urgency and we want them [ OC Parks ] to feel urgency and we want them to get on this,” Commissioner Carole Groom said.

OC Parks will have to present a more comprehensive plan, instead of emergency armoring measures, to address the erosion threat when they come back to the commission in one year.

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