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By Joe Muller
The last few years of storms and weather have not been kind to the beautiful little corner of sand in our town that we all affectionately refer to as Capo Beach.
Officially known as Capistrano Beach Park to its owner, the County of Orange, Capo Beach has perhaps the longest history in Capistrano Bay of providing public access to a wide range of recreational opportunities. From the heyday of the Capistrano Beach Club to the famed Capistrano Beach Fishing Pier, Capo Beach has been the place where everyone from South County and as far away as San Diego and Los Angeles came to enjoy what Richard Henry Dana called “the only romantic spot on the coast.”
The county has entrusted its regional parks agency, OC Parks, with the stewardship of our little corner of happiness in Capo Beach. They keep the restrooms clean, keep the basketball court painted and equipped with fresh nets and even recently installed nice, new cement picnic tables for people to enjoy an oceanfront meal.
They have had less success, however, in protecting the beach and the public-serving assets from the onslaught of waves and tides that have overwhelmed the undersized rock revetment structure that was built to protect the public’s access.
Frustrated by the lack of progress, I threw my hat in the ring to serve on the County’s OC Parks Commission. I wanted to see how we could ensure that our fair share of resources gets dedicated to protecting our public coastal resources.
I asked OC Parks Director Stacy Blackwood to present an update to the Commission on what’s going on and when we can expect to finally see some progress in saving our beach before the access is washed away.
The good news is that the county, and OC Parks, are fully supportive of protecting and saving Capo Beach. They have plans and are ready to move forward with repairing the old revetment wall of rocks with new, larger rocks, like what you see at Strands, where the Headlands development was recently built.
The disturbing part is the opposition to this common-sense project from staff of the California Coastal Commission. It seems some on the Coastal Commission staff have bought into the idea that what should be happening at Capo Beach is something they euphemistically call “Managed Retreat,” meaning let the parking lot, facilities and beach wash away—public access be damned. In opposing OC Parks repairs last year, they put unobtainable conditions on the project that made it impossible to move forward.
However, their own policies recommend protecting public access. That is why Californians adopted the California Coastal Act—to protect the public’s access to public beaches. Their own strategy is to “protect public trust lands and resources, including as sea level rises.” Seems pretty clear to me.
What’s next is for OC Parks to submit a permit application with the Coastal Commission, again, for repair of the rocks that protect the beach. I think the time is now for action, to let the Commission know that the public wants its beach protected. We need to save Capo Beach. Join me in letting your voice be heard on Facebook on the Save Capo Beach page, www.facebook.com/savecapobeach. “Like” the page and post a message of support. Let’s show the Commission that the public is not going to stand by while they watch our beach “retreat” away into nothing.
Joe Muller has served on the Dana Point City Council since being elected in 2014. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.