The latest roadmap provided to city council is available here:
The short-term projects identified in the draft city roadmap are:
1. Geotechnical Study of Sea Cave on the West Side of Lighthouse Point;
2. West Cliff Drive Sea Cave Stabilization;
3. West Cliff Drive One Way Pilot and Neighborhood Traffic Calming and Emergency Preventative Work;
4. West Cliff Stair Repair;
5. West Cliff Drive Stabilization;
6. West Cliff Bethany Curve Culvert;
7. West Cliff Resiliency and Accessibility;
8. West Cliff Intersection Improvements;
9. West Cliff Drive Multi-Use Path Pavement Rehabilitation;
10. Corrugated Metal Pipe (CMP) Storm Drain Pipe Replacement;
11. Coastal Living Shoreline, Nature Based Solutions and Sand Management; Feasibiliy Study;
12. West Cliff Post Storm Recovery Resiliency;
13. West Cliff’s Mitchell’s Cove Seawall Design;
14. Santa Cruz Coastal Adaptation Monitoring Program.
This list is a grab bag of projects which have been already approved. It’s unclear if any are funded. A number of them overlap with each other which makes it even more confusing.
There is a clear need for reducing the list and getting focused on what we need to do before Winter arrives.
So, let’s start with the money… We get funding for 100% of the costs if we complete the work before September 23. If we miss this date, we will have to find approximately $2 million from our City budgets.
Also, we need Coastal Commission approval for this work, so let’s keep it tight and focused on restoring access to West Cliff.
Priority #1 is critical to:
• Fix Bethany Curve Culvert (Project #5),
• Fix the holes in the cliff (Project #6 and #12) and
• Restore the pedestrian path (Project #9) and roadway (Project #6 and #12)
Deal with the traffic impacts from the road being closed (Project #3)
Scientific work is required to determine the feasibility of Nature Based Solutions for the long term. We need to get this going immediately. Focus should be on Beach Restoration and Sand Management at Mitchells Cove, Restoration of natural retention structures at Double Dagger point. If we have time, lets also explore other Coastal Commission recommended strategies such as Cobble Berms and Artificial Reefs. We need to update Project #11 to reflect this expanded scope and include the technical evaluations in Project #1 and #2 which have major implications if these structures fail.
Any long-term solution for West Cliff will require multiple agencies coming together around a shared vision for the West Cliff Recreation Area. City Council mandated this multi-agency approach on May 23 (after the draft of the Roadmap document), and, in the short term, the City needs to dedicate resources to participate in a working group. On the land side, the City has jurisdiction over the linear park, Coastal Commission has jurisdiction over the Coastal Zone and California State Parks manage Lighthouse Beach and Natural Bridges State Parks. For the ocean side, California National Monument covers the intertidal zones; the Coast Guard controls recreation in the 300-yard recreation zone, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary over sanctuary management, among others. A collaboration of non-profits, including Save West Cliff, will assist in establishing a WCRA multi-agency working group to help bring these agencies together, along with the formation of a West Cliff Restoration and Resilience Fund to help fund critical initiatives and projects.
(All the other projects can wait and be incorporated in the long-term planning.)
City Council directed staff to work with the community to develop a 50-year plan using a nature-based solution and engage with agencies who have jurisdiction over the water side of the West Cliff Recreation Area.
Priority #1: Needs Assessment
Before we start discussing long term solutions, we must have the courage and conviction to collectively re-imagine how we access our Beloved and Iconic West Cliff for generations to come.
To start this re-imagination process, we require a Needs Assessment Survey with subsequent reviews and discussion in an open community forum.
We must prioritize the needs to ensure any solutions meet our needs otherwise we waste time, money and cause unnecessary thrashing in the community. This includes access, transportation (1-way, 2-way, bike, pedestrian), facilities, parking, etc.
It’s not going to be easy but let’s take responsibility for getting this done right up front. We can be inspired by other communities who have done this and come out the other side stronger for it.
Priority #2: Dynamic Coast / Nature Based Strategy Alternatives & Pathways
City Council has directed us to take a long-term view and use nature-based solutions to mitigate the West Swell threat while expanding access and recreation in the West Cliff Recreation Area.
Here is a link to the relevant section from the California Coastal Commissions "Critical Infrastructure at Risk, Sea Level Rise Planning Guidance for California’s Coastal Zone, Final Adopted Guidance November 17, 2021”
In this document the Coastal Commission says:
1. Consider nature-based adaptation strategies in all sea level rise adaptation planning efforts and prioritize such solutions over proposals for hard shoreline armoring, whenever feasible. Where these strategies are not feasible, pursue opportunities to increase their feasibility in the future.
2. Identify existing nature-based shoreline protection and consider opportunities to maintain, enhance, or expand these existing features.
3. Prioritize funding for nature-based adaptation strategies over traditional hard shoreline armoring methods.
4. Encourage partnerships among state agencies to strengthen and accelerate opportunities for using nature-based adaptation strategies – including the Ocean Protection Council, Coastal Conservancy, State Lands Commission, State Parks, State and Regional Water Quality Control Boards, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Coastal Commission.
5. Continue monitoring the performance of nature-based adaptation strategies and their benefits, and developing case studies, guidance, and best practices to share lessons learned and encourage wider use of nature-based adaptation strategies.”
Clearly, we need to heed this advice and begin all long-term planning with a Nature Based Strategy mindset.
Using the Dynamic Coast section of the Roadmap as a starting point we need to create Nature Based Adaptation Strategies and Pathways for the West Cliff Recreation Area. We can draw on some good work in the Parks 2030 plan and the West Cliff Existing Conditions Inventory and Future Vulnerability Assessment completed in 2020/21.
Priority #3: Nature Based Solution Phase 1
Given the increasing threat of West Storms, we need to implement a nature-based solution and fast. While we acknowledge that some projects may take a decade, we need action now.
There are many examples of nature-based solutions in action today, there are outlined on our book “West Cliff. Beloved and Iconic. A Visual Record” which is available at local bookstores, museums and surf outlets. Examples include Capitola Beach, Seabright Beach, Noosa Main Beach and Tweed Heads / Superbank. All use sand as a way of protecting costal infrastructure and resources.
Even more encouraging, the Coastal Commission outlines preferred Nature Based Solutions for different kinds of threats in their guidelines. All include Sand based strategies.
West Cliff falls into two threat categories in the Coastal Commission guidelines:
1. Flooding (wave overtopping and run-up, open coast)
For this type of threat Coastal Commission recommends:
(a) Soft Strategy: "Sand dunes and Sand berm” and/or
(b) Hybrid Armoring Strategy:"Cobble berm, Sand dunes + buried seawall, Artificial reef”
2. Erosion (bluff)
For this type of threat Coastal Commission recommends:
(a) Soft Strategy: Native vegetation stabilization, Drainage improvements, Sand
nourishment, regional sediment management and/or
(b) A Hybrid Armoring Strategy: Cobble berm, Rock platform + vegetation.
Priority #3 for the Long Term Plan should be take the output from the Short Term Priority #3 project and deliver an actionable set of nature based projects we can begin to implement in the next 2-3 years (Phase 1). This will require support for agencies who have jurisdiction over the water side of the West Cliff Recreation Area such as Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and others. As mandated by the city council, these discussions should begin as soon as possible.