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Carlsbad reviews recommendations to move street away from coast

Earlier this month, a city commission recommended moving a stretch of Carlsbad Boulevard to higher ground because of climate change. KPBS North County reporter Alexander Nguyen says the Carlsbad City Council is set to review those recommendations Tuesday evening.

Scenic Carlsbad Boulevard abuts the coast and is a beautiful drive where you see pelicans flying and gliding past surfers.

But the road, also known as Highway 101, is being threatened by climate change and erosion. In some places, the pavement is only a few feet from the bluff.

Why it matters

According to a city report, the stretch of Carlsbad Boulevard between Palomar Airport Road and Island Way is the most susceptible to damage from sea-level rise. On April 2, the city’s Beach Preservation Commission recommended moving that 1-mile stretch of Carlsbad Boulevard to higher ground, retreating from the sea.

At its lowest point, Carlsbad Boulevard is only a few feet above the beach.

The report, along with the recommendations, was presented to the city council on Tuesday.


Looking ahead

Mitch Silverstein with the Surfrider Foundation agrees with the commission, but he wants the council to act sooner rather than later.

“We want the city council to support the idea that when they realign traffic from this road, which you can see is too close to the beach, to the northbound road," he said. "We want the city to support demolishing this old road so that they can restore the beach and the adjacent wetlands.”

The city has been putting boulders by the road to prevent erosion, but that’s not a long-term solution.

“So it's not really a question of if, it's a question of when we move this infrastructure back to protect the road and protect this critical corridor, and then how we do that,” Silverstein said.

The other option would be a phased approach where changes would take place incrementally over 96 years. Silverstein doesn’t think that’s a good idea.

A city spokesperson said the city still needs to find funding for the recommendations.


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