Encinitas Seawall Fight Could Reach Beyond San Diego

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two families in Encinitas made repairs to a sea wall to protect their homes after heavy storms. But now, the Coastal Commission is demanding the families allow the permit to expire in 20 years. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda explains the David vs. Goliath-like dispute. (Published Monday, Jul 14, 2014)

    A legal fight involving two Encinitas homeowners could have legal implications for homes all along the California coastline.

    With city approval, two families made repairs to a storm-damaged seawall at Grandview Beach along Neptune Avenue.

    In 2011, the California Coastal Commission approved the wall, but demanded the families agree to allow the permit to expire in 20 years.

    After two decades, the families could be ordered to remove the seawall.

    For its part, the commission said it’s critical to re-evaluate the seawalls every two decades and review coastline and environmental changes.

    But the families sued, and won in the lower courts.

    The Coastal Commission appealed and arguments were heard Monday.

    Jennifer Lynch's family has lived here since 1970.

    “It’s taken a huge financial toll as well as an emotional toll,” Lynch said.

    “The thought that we won't be able to have that home, protect it and be able to go to the beach and enjoy it, it's been very difficult.”

    Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Paul Beard said the commission is trying to engage in a power play.

    “The fact is, the city of Encinitas unanimously approved our project. The Coastal Commission is engaged in a power play and simply wants to deny the family their rights to rebuild and protect their property,” Beard said.

    According to the city there are 88-seawall in Encinitas alone.

    Previously, a Coastal Commission spokesperson said those seawalls diminish the beaches by cutting off a natural source of sand replenishment.

    The appeals court will release its decision within 90 days.