The Army Corps of Engineers (COE) has allocated more than $900,000 for the first stages of projects that will secure parts of the bluff line in northern San Diego County and San Clemente.
Rep. Mike Levin (D-49) announced the funding days after he attended the State of the Union address alongside Dr. Pat Davis, an Encinitas doctor who was seated right next to three of his family members at Grandview Beach last summer when a portion of the bluff collapsed and killed them.
The Army COE has set aside $400,000 for the planning and design phase of the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project. The project focuses on limiting erosion of the bluff caused by storms and rising sea levels, and maintaining the integrity of the train tracks that run atop the cliffs.
According to Rep. Levin, the cities of Encinitas and Solana Beach have most of the local funding for the Planning, Engineering & Design phase, but were waiting for more federal funding. on top of the $400,000 allocated by the Army COE, the PED phase will require an additional $1.5 million in federal funding, according to Levin. Federal permission will be need to begin construction on the project once the PED phase is complete.
The Army COE set aside another $505,000 for the San Clemente Shoreline Project was started to protect the Los Angeles–San Diego–San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor (LOSSAN Corridor) tracks and surrounding infrastructure along the San Clemente coast.
“I am proud that we have finally secured significant federal funding to help secure coastal bluffs in our community and prevent tragedies like the one Dr. Davis and his family experienced at Grandview Beach last year,” said Rep. Mike Levin. “This funding will advance a critical phase of the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, and effectively unlocks additional funding that local municipalities have pledged to the project. While much more federal funding will be needed to secure our bluffs over the long-term, this is a significant step that was long overdue. I’ll continue work with Dr. Davis and local stakeholders to gain additional federal funding needed to make our beaches safe.”
Levin and Dr. Davis have been lobbying in Washington to accelerate the project.
With a rugged coastline and spectacular view, the beaches in Encinitas have long been a sanctuary for recreation.
But you will understand if Davis and his family now have a different view.
“I’ll bet Annie, my daughter that was killed, had been to that beach with her husband a thousand times since they were in junior high school,” Davis said.
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“Why I wasn’t killed is beyond me. I was right next to my wife. We were sitting a foot apart and the bluff collapsed in such a way that it took out the three chairs next to me. Not mine,” he said in an exclusive interview with NBC 7.
Gone in an instant: his wife Julie, his youngest daughter Annie, and sister-in-law Elizabeth whose victory against cancer the family was celebrating.
It was a horrible accident that touched an entire community and empowered the Encinitas pediatric dentist to fight through his grief and push governments to make beaches safer.
Now, almost 6 months later, Davis is getting some national help from Rep. Levin.
“The new reality is when you combine water and land use with climate change, it creates a new normal that we have to be mindful of, and although we live in this extraordinarily amazing place, we have to be mindful of the risks of living on the coast,” Levin said.
“I would find it difficult to live with myself if I did nothing about this and this happened to someone else’s family,” Davis added.
Davis may be a dentist, but like a structural engineer he has some specific safety changes he would like to see employed to make beaches safer, including safe zones: a concept involving retaining walls near lifeguard towers that would give beach goers a safe place to gather.