Category Archives: SAN DIEGO

Parking Lot to Wetland

Today I attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of a new segment of the Coast To Crest Trail, which was completed as part of a wetland restoration project that turned a parking lot back into wetlands.

This view is facing East, along the existing trail that runs 71 miles along the San Dieguito River to its source on Volcan Mountain.

Looking Southwest, you can see the newly created wetlands where there was a parking lot. The new trail segment is on the right.

To the South, the wetlands are in the foreground, behind them is the river, and beyond the river is an earlier wetlands restoration project.

The current project is being funded by the Del Mar Fairgrounds as part of an agreement with the Coastal Commission to resolve some Coastal Act violations. The San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club played a role in this long saga with some research by legal interns, and a successful lawsuit against the fairgrounds.

This article has more about the project.

Bad News on Gregory Canyon

The Union Tribune reports that the Coastal Commission has decided not to review the project.

In an unexpected turn of events, the California Coastal Commission has withdrawn its application to intervene in North County’s Gregory Canyon Landfill debate.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the federal Office of Coastal Management, the commission said that upon further research, its initial concerns about the effects the proposed trash dump might have on the coast have been eased.

Gregory Canyon and the Coastal Commission

The proposed Gregory Canyon landfill is located on the San Luis Rey River, upstream from the Coastal Zone. The river supports endangered species and is sited close enough to the City of Oceanside’s Groundwater Purification Facility to cause concern. The river has been a critical component of the steelhead recovery efforts.

The Coastal Zone Management Act considered that projects outside of the Coastal Zone could potentially impact the Coastal Zone., putting projects like the Gregory Canyon Landfill under the purview of the Commission. The Coastal Commission analysis and review of this project will provide additional information for decision makers and the public. It will cast a wider net for potential impacts thus adding valuable information to the discussion.

In 1976, President Nixon signed the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), which gives coastal states the authority to review federally permitted projects that could affect coastal resources, even if they are not located on the coast itself. The premise, as we have seen from numerous oil spills, is that environmental destruction doesn’t respect jurisdictional boundaries, and coastal resources are deserving of additional protections.

The landfill, an enormously controversial project the public has been fighting for decades because of its potential harm to municipal water supplies and cultural resources, could pollute the San Luis Rey River and kill endangered steelhead trout. It requires federal permits, thus making it eligible for Coastal Commission review under federal law.

However, the Commission must first get approval from the Office of Coastal Management (OCM). Last month, at the request of the City of Oceanside, the Pala Indian Tribe, and numerous community groups, the Commission sent a letter to OCM, requesting permission to do so. This is the process established by law.

But a fundamental question still needs to be answered. Does San Diego even need another landfill, when City and County estimates point to excess capacity due to successful recycling efforts?

King Tides 2015

The morning of Thanksgiving Day was a “King Tide” day. King Tide is a colloquial term for an unusually high tide. These occur when the sun and moon are aligned, the moon is closest to the earth, and the earth is closest to the sun. All three factors intensify the gravitational pull that makes the tides.

I have been attending meetings of the Del Mar Sea Level Rise Technical Advisory Committee, which is working on an LCP Amendment to address sea level rise. Encinitas has a City Council Subcommittee, slowly getting started on planning an LCP amendment for the same purpose. I thought some pictures at King Tide might help people visualize the impact of sea level rise on our coastal lagoons.

That is the stated purpose of the King Tides Initiative – to show a preview of what the “normal” high tides will look like as sea level creep up.

I decided to go out for a tour and get some pictures. At about the peak of high tide, I visited two coastal lagoons near me: the San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas and the San Dieguito Lagoon in Del Mar. You can see the results on my Flickr page or the San Diego King Tide Flickr Group.

The picture above is the Boardwalk at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. It was the subject of a controversy last March. The Commission denied a request for a permit amendment to leave the boardwalk in place. The original plan had been to remove it completely. The issue was resolved by a compromise – some of it will be removed, but the part shown above will remain (until nature has the final say, with another foot of sea level rise). Here is a view of the same section at a “normal” tide level.

This year, the King Tides are getting an extra boost. Three factors are increasing the heights of the highest tides: thermal warming of the oceans due to climate change, more thermal warming from the big pool of warmer water off the California coast, and prevailing winds pushing water up against our coast. The results show up on tide gauges. Here is a clip from the NOAA tide guage at La Jolla for November 26.
The blue line is predicted sea level, the red line is observed level, and the purple line shows the excess of actual over predicted. It shows that the actual levels are running almost a foot above what was predicted based on historical tide records.

The first King Tides in the 2015-2016 season were on November 24th to 26th. There are two more coming: December 22nd to 23rd, and January 21st and 22nd, 2016. Check out the International and California King Tides Initiative web sites, and plan to get some pictures in your area.