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San Clemente beach restoration project completes first phase

Beach restoration project nears completion in San Clemente
Beach restoration project nears completion in San Clemente 02:15

With summer just around the corner, San Clemente residents are grateful that the beach restoration project continues to move along and soft, white sand has finally returned to their beloved shores. 

The project, which started in late 2023, aims to replace sand and widen the beach by up to 50 feet from an area that had previously eroded near the pier, down to just about 10 feet in some places. 

The completion of the project's first phase, which was celebrated by city leaders and beachgoers alike on Friday, comes after hitting a snag earlier in 2024, when coarse and rocky sands were brought to the beach from Oceanside, which caused some outrage amongst residents. 

"I'm not coming to lay on the rocks," said Hannah Brown at the time. "My toddlers, my kids aren't coming to play in the rocks."

Now though, people are rejoicing with the returns of the beach that they grew to love over the years. 

"I'm really grateful that we have the sand," said Amanda Quintanilla, a San Clemente resident. "There's shells in the sand, which reminds me of when I used to walk here as a little child. It's just fantastic."

Congressman Mike Levin, who helped spearhead the project by securing federal funds to expand the beach's shoreline, was on hand at Friday's ceremony. 

He says that apart from the ample amounts of beach now available for visitors, the sand also helps secure the rail corridor heading through the area, which has been a constant spot of frustration in recent months because of the eroding land. 

"We have one of the busiest rail corridors anywhere in the United States that connects San Diego to LA, it's so critically important," Levin said. "Eight million passengers a year, but also a billion dollars in economic activity for our region and so, keeping it up and running in critically important."

After the earlier issues came to light, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, who oversee the work, moved the dredging site north of Oceanside to Surfside in order to get finer sand. 

"The new borrow site is great," said Colonel Andrew Baker with USACE. "It produced all this wonderful sand you see in front of you here today, but it is a little bit far away, so hopefully by the time we roll around to the next 5-6 year replenishment cycle we'll have located something a little bit more convenient."

The project will finally be completed in October, when 100,000 more cubic yards of sand are dumped on the stretch of beach. 

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