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By Jim Shilander
The San Clemente City Council approved the city’s first beach ecology and maintenance policy Tuesday.
Sharon Heider, Beaches, Parks and Recreation director told the council the city was trying to be a good steward of the ocean and protect one of its most valuable assets by creating the policy. With the city consistently losing sand for almost three decades, a number of issues, such as kelp cleanup and the growth of areas of cobble, had become a concern. However, due to a lack of consensus about whether removing cobble would exacerbate or hold off beach erosion, the policy would leave the cobble in place.
Bill Humphrey, the chief of Marine Safety for San Clemente, said there was no easy solution to the problem of beach erosion.
“The beach environment will always seek an equilibrium,” Humphreys said. “The ocean is always rearranging sand and cobble as it wants… It’s not a pristine environment. It’s never going to be perfect.”
Dennis Reed, Beaches and Parks Maintenance Manager, told the council that the presence of cobble wasn’t necessarily a problem.
“The cobble itself is not a problem, but a symptom of the problem,” Reed told the council. “There’s no guarantee of what’s below. If its down to the bedrock, the erosion could be permanent. It’s a physical, not a mechanical process.”
Heider said the city will take a different approach depending on the season. During the high traffic period of late spring and summer (approximately May 15-September 15), the city will continue to groom sand and remove major build ups of kelp, but to not do so in the winters, to allow for the kelp to provide nutrients to the sand. The policy would also keep cobble in place. Council member Jim Evert asked Heider to consider topping large areas of cobble with sand if at all possible during the summers.