By Megan Bianco
If you live in Southern California or are visiting this summer, you might have noticed it’s taking a while to get warm and sunny to ask the eternal question: “Beach or pool?”
For the past few years, “May Gray” and “June Gloom” have lingered a lot longer than usual in our area, but, fortunately, we’ve managed to get decent sun exposure by July.
If you’re a long-term resident in South Orange County, you already know the answer to “beach or pool?” might be pool for a lot of people, since the beach isn’t going to be available this season for some locations.
Since roughly 2019, a number of local beaches, specifically in my hometown of San Clemente, have been washed up from sand erosion, and the tide has not gone down for the public to enjoy sunbathing, swimming, surfing, boogie-boarding and the like properly.
Even just enjoying the view from afar has been affected, with mostly ocean water now replacing a nice, sandy view with locals and visitors lounging about.
Sam George’s new short documentary, Running Out of Time, puts the spotlight on how the growing erosion issue is specifically hurting San Clemente.
Our town was built on being a beach community, with many people moving to the location just for the experience. I spent most of my childhood not only in San Clemente, but living in one of the neighborhoods right next to the water.
When I visit my parents’ house now, it’s so bizarre to not hear kids having fun or surfers shouting at each other while enjoying the waves. It’s even eerie to be met with silence, as the regularly scheduled train that rides next to the neighborhood is sporadically missing now.
You can find much of OC and California history in San Clemente, including the historic estate Casa Romantica, which was briefly closed this past May because of recent landslides following rainy weather.
George’s feature starts with some background on the impact and popularity of the beach in San Clemente, as well as comparing how different the geography’s changed in the past 30 years using footage and photos.
From the mid-1980s to 2010, there were regular flows of high tide and low tide. In the doc, Prof. Brett Sanders estimates the change debuted in 2015, when SoCal had a strong ‘El Niño’ type season, and the larger-than-usual waves contributed to the sand erosion.
Surfer and longtime San Clemente local Greg Long narrates Running Out of Time, while Sanders, journalist Laylan Connelly and San Clemente Mayor Chris Duncan share their findings, thoughts and goals for the future of the beaches.
Jacob Vanderwork and Nate Klein provide some impressive HD cinematography of the water and nearby land areas.
George and Co. argue it’s time to move beyond theories and research, and actually take action before it is too late, suggesting we have the resources and technology currently to reverse the damage nature has done to the sand.
The commentators have some pretty convincing arguments, and the visual comparisons exposed throughout are unnerving. As a viewer, the pacing and editing of Running Out of Time reminded me a bit too much of a student film, though the 10-minute doc has quality production values.
But as a San Clemente native, the message is important. If you’re a part of Southern California, especially South OC, visit the website bringbackourbeaches.com to watch Running Out of Time and learn more about the cause and support to reverse San Clemente’s sand erosion problem.