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AMBROSE MASTO, Capistrano Beach

For two weeks now, articles have focused on our myriads of problems affecting our local coastlines.

In a nutshell, the problem is related to sea-level rise, loss of sand, more powerful storms, a lack of successful sand replenishment due to drought and other related San Juan Creek issues, and finally, in my viewpoint, a Coastal Commission that failed to deal with these problems in our beautiful coastline.

The CCC is charged with a daunting task, but its structure is such that it doesn’t answer to any governmental agency, any city or state agency, or any dissenting persons, private or public.

Capistrano Beach had problems for the past several years. A significant event, which finally contributed to its awakening, was a collapse of boardwalk steps and a significant portion of the basketball courts in November 2018.

Prior to that, several huge palm trees along the coast were taken by the ocean, as well as two side-by-side public volleyball courts. Bike rental businesses in the public parking areas had to leave.

Cleanup crews and closure of the Beach Road adjacent the public parking lot were closed almost every time there were high tides. Significant damage was done on Beach Road residences.

At that time, the CCC only permitted small sandbags. As the waves got stronger and higher, the bags could not protect anything, and after a high tide, the bags would be found all over the beach. 

As storms got more substantial, notably at two consecutive Fourth of July celebrations in 2019 and 2020, the CCC allowed gabions to be used temporarily by homeowners, but interestingly allowed the county to use boulders to protect the parking lot structures.

These boulders, also referred to as riprap, were found to be effective for protection. In fact, when recent storms affected the railroad tracks in San Clemente, it immediately ordered tons of riprap. 

Our beautiful coast has always been rocky. There’s a lot of cobble that comes and just as quickly disappears. Unfortunately, during storms, the ocean hurls rocks at the large white gabions, slashing the bags, causing the sand to leak out.

Apparently, the CCC is satisfied with this. I think this Commission needs to look closely at its decisions and start treating our beaches as the beautiful treasures that they are.

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