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Beacon's Beach to get new stairway

DENIS DEVINE 
Staff Writer 

ENCINITAS ---- The days are numbered for the dirt trail leading to Beacon's Beach, as a city-hired firm begins designing a new stairway down to the neighborhood beach that is popular with surfers. 

At its Jan. 23 meeting, the City Council approved a $250,000 contract with the San Diego-based Schmidt Design Group Inc. for the planning and design stages of the project. Construction work is expected to begin in about a year, city officials said. 

A $2.7 million state grant will fund the new beach access. The access will be a concrete-and-wood stairway similar to one Schmidt Design Group created for Swami's Beach in Encinitas. The access improvements could also include a lifeguard tower, a shower, new lights and some form of bluff stabilization, but a seawall and restrooms will not be included, said city community services director David Wigginton. 

At the west end of Leucadia Boulevard, Beacon's Beach is just north of a row of Neptune Avenue homes that have been threatened by past bluff collapses. 

"Erosion is getting to the point where we're afraid we won't be able to maintain public access to the beach," Wigginton said. 

The project would not impact the surrounding private properties. But because the beach is in what he called a "landslide area," Wigginton said the project presents "different design challenges" than the otherwise similar projects Schmidt Design Group has completed for Encinitas at the "D" Street, Swami's and Grandview beaches. 

On Tuesday, erosion was visible in the fresh sand and sediment washed onto the trail by a morning rainstorm and a small landslide about a fifth of the way down the winding dirt path. Beachgoers said the new beach access sounded like a good idea. 

"People could easily slip and fall," said Peggy Edwards, who brings small groups of beginning surfers to Beacon's with her husband's Kahuna Bob's Surf School. "They always have these rinky-dink railings there; they're not very supportive. In the winter months, in the rain, everything kind of gets wrecked. It seems like they keep putting Band-Aids on the trail, not really fixing the problems there, over and over. Eventually ... they just kind of get eroded over time." 

Brian and Molly Clark, Encinitas residents enjoying their lunch Tuesday in the parking lot overlooking the ocean, said the beach-access improvement sounded "great." 

"We've walked down this a few times," Brian Clark said. "It's mostly dirt and full of holes. You could break your leg." 

Another resident across the street, Rod Aries, said he thought new lighting would improve the walk down the 100-feet-high bluffs. "Around 5 or 6 when it gets dark, it can be tough to go up and down," he said. 

But Aries, who surfs and maintains a Web site devoted to the beach ---- www.beaconsbeach.com ---- also said he hoped the beach wouldn't lose the unique character afforded it by the difficulty of public access. 

"It really is a secluded beach," he said. "It's predominantly a surfers' beach because the stairways are so steep. I hope they try to retain as much character as you can for old funky Leucadia. It's a slice of California surf life." 

Ten percent of the state's $2.7 million grant is available for design work, leaving $2.43 million for actual construction. Wigginton said the city may also have to allocate $200,000 to $230,000 for construction drawings by the Schmidt group. 

Contact staff writer Denis Devine at (760) 943-2313 or ddevine@nctimes.com

Read the article at www.nctimes.net

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