San Onofre State Beach Seawall


June 1, 2019

California State Parks proposed to retain an 800-foot long riprap revetment along Surf Beach at San Onofre State Beach. The seawall was originally constructed pursuant to an emergency permit issued in February 2017. The emergency revetment was installed as a temporary measure to protect the beachfront road. Due to uncertainty regarding the renewal of State Parks’ lease for San Onofre State Beach in August 2021 and the future of the bluff top San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) parking lot integral to a managed retreat alternative, Coastal Commission staff recommended a temporary five year authorization of the seawall with an option for a five year extension based on monitoring reports and a long term hazard management plan. The special conditions include annual surf and beach erosion monitoring reports with an opportunity for public contribution and a long term hazard management plan due in five years that avoids hard armoring and incorporates input from a public workshop. Commissioners unanimously approved the seawall authorization.

Why You Should Care

Temporary retention of the seawall will preserve the coastal access road and beach front parking while State Park’s works to develop a long term plan for Surf Beach that avoids hard armorning. Given the negative impact on beach erosion and surf breaks that seawalls are known to have, it would be a shame to armor the Surf Beach at the expense of beach and surf in order to protect public parking - especially when long term solutions exist such as blufftop parking. State Parks and the Coastal Commission still have the opportunity to make Surf Beach a shining example of a coastal adaptation project. State Parks could work cooperatively with other state agencies and the local community to seek funding and input to make this beach resilient to future conditions as is being done at Surfer’s Point in Ventura and in Cardiff-by-the-Sea with the Cardiff Reef Living Shoreline.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Commissioner Donne Brownsey supported the Surfrider Foundation’s suggestion that more frequent surf monitoring take place and motioned an amendment to the permit that State Parks should conduct surf monitoring four times per month rather than twice per month. Commissioner Brownsey also amended the permit to ensure that should State Park’s lease not be renewed, it must remove the seawall before turning this land over to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Organizations Opposed

Decision Type

Coastal Development Permit

Staff Recommendation

Approval with Conditions

Coastal Act Policy