Capistrano Beach Park Nature Based Project and Seawall


November 1, 2022

The Coastal Commission approved Orange County Parks’ interim plan to address severe erosion at Capistrano Beach County Park. The County plans to install a nature-based adaptation pilot project involving a 1,150 ft. buried cobble berm with vegetated sand dunes seaward of the coastal trail at the southeast end of Doheny Beach and north end of Capistrano Beach Park. This is an innovative step forward for managing the beach park after several emergency permits for armoring spanning back to 2008. The County’s plan also includes retention of shoreline armoring seaward of the parking lot, along with an additional 800 ft. of armoring along the southern reach of the parking lot. Surfrider opposed the seawall due to the availability of free public street parking adjacent to the beach. Although a portion of the project is a step in the right direction, it feels like a distraction from the fact that the County is planning an enormous seawall for the majority of the beach. Commissioners approved the project unanimously.

Why You Should Care

While we appreciate OC Parks and the Coastal Commission for pushing for innovative solutions at Capistrano Beach, the amount of shoreline armoring compared to nature-based protection is not yet cause for celebration - especially when the armoring protects a parking lot that is not vital to public access. A better solution would be to remove the parking lot and restore the entire beach. We should not sacrifice our beaches to rising seas for the purpose of protecting parking lots and non-vital public infrastructure.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Chair Donne Brownsey commended OC Parks on the proposed project and pointed out that the shoreline armoring is intended to be temporary. The County stated it would evaluate the performance of the nature-based adaptation project with monitoring and maintenance of site conditions for a period of five years following construction to inform County’s longer term sea level rise adaptation plan in Dana Point, Orange County.

Organizations Opposed

Surfrider Foundation

Decision Type

Coastal Development Permit

Staff Recommendation

Approval with Conditions

Coastal Act Policy