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Beach access point reopens after eight-month closure

The staircase at El Portal Beach is now open to the public after an eight-month closure. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Eric Heinz

Easy access to El Portal Beach in San Clemente is open once again, as the city debuted the new staircase that leads from Buena Vista to the Pacific Ocean.

The access point was closed for eight months as the city constructed the new staircase, which is made of anodized aluminum rails, cable and Alaskan yellow cedar wood.

Comprised of 112 stairs in six sections, the planning phase of the project began two and a half years ago.

“The previous staircase had met its useful life, and it’s a big opportunity for the city of San Clemente to provide a safe and beautiful beach access that links the California Coastal Trail and San Clemente Beach Trail,” said Aeryn Donnelly, the city’s park planner. “We were able to do improvements to the upper landing and new amenities and new signage. There was also opportunity for the public to step forward to donate a bench for the Celebrate Acknowledge Remember and Enhance program.”

The staircase also has custom, hand-painted tiles that decorate the sides of the steps at the bottom of the access point.

At the top of the entrance, California native plants have been put in to help with beautification efforts and decrease erosion.

“We basically timed the project so we could miss the busy season and avoid the rain, which luckily worked,” Donnelly said.

As for functionality, the stairways have been widened so two surfers can pass each other while traveling in opposite directions on the staircase. There is also a viewing platform about two-thirds of the way down.

“This is a great way for the people in the area to have direct access,” Pamela Passow, the city’s Beaches, Parks and Recreation director, said. “It makes it pleasant, and people have been looking at them for exercise.”

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