November 14, 2018
No retreat from rising sea levels at Del Mar
DEL MAR - This old resort community is facing a reckoning.

It has about 600 homes at beach level on the northern end of the city. They include some of San Diego County’s most expensive properties, including a home owned by Kim Fletcher, a member of one of San Diego’s pioneering families.

But rising sea levels are putting the Pacific perilously close to those low-lying homes. As a result, the state Coastal Commission says all cities must devise a plan that addresses the inevitable decline of the shoreline.

One of the strategies the state is pushing is something called "managed retreat." The concept calls for abandoning land threatened by coastal erosion, removing any structures such as houses or seawalls, and allowing the beach to return to its natural state.

It is an option that is not sitting well with residents of the small community, such as the 90-year-old Fletcher.
“If you lose the houses on the beach, you’re going to flood everything back to the railroad tracks,” Fletcher said. “The topography is terrible,” he told the San Diego Union Tribune.

Homeowners worry that their property values would plummet, insurance rates would skyrocket, and mortgages would be harder to obtain if word gets out that the city is considering retreat. Instead, they say, the city should find more ways to pump sand onto its eroding beaches.

Much more popular with Del Mar residents is the idea of sand replenishment, which has been used for years to fortify beaches along the San Diego County coast.
“We want to stress that beach nourishment and sand replenishment .. is the best sea-level rise adaptation strategy,” said Jon Corn, an attorney for Del Mar property owners.

He and his 30 or more clients in the newly formed Del Mar Beach Preservation Coalition were pleased to see that the city had deleted the retreat strategy from the latest version of its sea-level rise adaptation strategy that was released last week, he said. The proposed strategy is expected to go to the City Council for approval in February, and to the California Coastal Commission next summer.
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