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Oceanside, with support of North County officials, approves sand retention project

Updated: February 1, 2024 at 9:42 AM PST
Update: The Oceanside City Council unanimously approved their coastal resilience project Wednesday night. The “Living Speed Bumps concept” features two artificial headlands and an offshore artificial reef. Now, the project will move into final design, engineering and permitting phases.

In front of crashing waves and a rocky shoreline, the mayors of Escondido, San Marcos and Vista gathered Wednesday morning to support Oceanside's coastal resilience project.

County Supervisor Jim Desmond was also there. He said the project impacts the local tourism industry and beach access for San Diegans.

“Many of us along North County, along the (State Route) 78 corridor, this is the beach. This is the first place that we come to. And we really want to make sure that this jewel is still here,” Desmond said.


The Oceanside City Council is scheduled Wednesday evening to vote on the coastal resilience project’s winning design.

It comes from the Australian International Coastal Management team and proposes two artificial headlands to stabilize sand on the beach, plus an offshore artificial reef to slow down erosion.

“Two-thirds of our beaches don't have dry sand at any tide. We’re at a critical junction right now,” said Oceanside Councilmember and Deputy Mayor Ryan Keim.

Keim said just a decade ago, it was a different story.

“In prior years you could drive a lifeguard truck from the pier … all the way down to the border of Carlsbad, and we haven't been able to do that for a while,” he said.

Waves pound the rocky coastline of the Wisconsin Street Beach in Oceanside, Jan. 31, 2024.
Jacob Aere
Waves pound the rocky coastline of the Wisconsin Street Beach in Oceanside, Jan. 31, 2024.

Not everyone is happy with the proposal.

“Beaches play a huge role in Carlsbad’s quality of life, which is why we don’t support projects that could result in less sand along our coastline,” Carlsbad Parks & Recreation Director Kyle Lancaster said in a written statement.

Some coastal towns, like Carlsbad, are concerned that the project could affect their own shoreline.

“Once the required studies are completed for the proposed Oceanside project, we will be in a better position to know what effects, if any, it would have on Carlsbad,” Lancaster said.

Chris Abad, a local surfer and the secretary of the Oceanside Boardriders Club, wants to make the majority of Oceanside’s coastline usable again.

“I think until probably 2016, 2017 we had some accessible beach, since then it's gone down pretty quickly. It’s disappeared,” he said.

Now, much of what used to be sandy beaches is rocky shoreline and rough waves.

Abad said this project has bigger implications than Oceanside — sandy beaches are receding in many coastal towns.

“It's not just Oceanside or San Diego, it's the whole coastline,” he said.

If the City Council approves the project, it would move into final design, engineering and permitting phases.

While no funding has been secured yet, the project is estimated to cost $30 million.

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