Del Mar Bluffs Stabilization


June 1, 2022

On Wednesday, the Coastal Commission approved a major public works project proposed by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to construct bluff stabilization structures and over half a mile of seawall along the Del Mar Bluffs to protect the blufftop railway. The permit duration is limited to 30 years, at which time the shoreline armoring must be entirely removed. SANDAG has committed to relocating the railway by 2035. The project also includes substantial public access improvements as mitigation for the project including addressing the longstanding need for a designated rail crossing and formal beach accessway in the project area. The commitment to relocating the rail is so dramatic and so well documented in the permit that the Surfrider Foundation supports the project as a special case study in phased relocation in light of sea level rise. SANDAG has expressed the consistent message and firm commitment that it is a willing partner in this plan for managed retreat. The project was approved unanimously.

Why You Should Care

While this project permits half a mile of seawalls for the next 30 years, it also paves the way for a large-scale relocation of the railway. This is an example of phased adaptation and relocation in light of sea level rise.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Commissioner Paloma Aguirre, city council member of Imperial Beach, remarked that this project is a good compromise and pointed out that, “It’s a temporary fix and sea level rise is something we will have to address much quicker than expected.” Commissioner Matt O’Malley indicated he would support increasing the public access mitigation if possible.

Organizations Opposed

Decision Type

Consistency Determination

Staff Recommendation

Approval with Conditions

Coastal Act Policy