The steep path to Beacon’s Beach reopened on Thursday in time for the July 4 weekend after repairs required by a recent landslide.
City officials closed the dirt trail and paved parking lot 85 feet above sea level after the May 2 cave-in damaged the trail and left cracks in the grade.
During the eight-week closure, the city and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography monitored the stability of the slope and collected data to help decide whether it would be safe to repair and reopen the trail.
“The city’s geotechnical engineer has determined that the bluff is leveling off,” Encinitas officials said in a news release this week. The city will continue to work with Scripps, the State Parks Department and the California Coastal Commission to monitor the cliff for signs of another landslide.
A contractor began repairs last week and completed them on Wednesday, with a final cleanup Thursday morning. The cost to the city, including staff time and temporary fencing, was about $50,000, not including labor and equipment provided by Scripps, the public information officer said Thursday afternoon. Julie Taber.
“The trail was kept in the same configuration and the route was not changed,” Taber said. “Additional steps were added…because a section of trail had dropped nearly 2 feet.”
Four small retaining walls were also added, some damaged steps were replaced and the trail was regraded, she said.
According to the city’s website, long-term plans include moving the parking lot from the edge of the cliff to prevent parked cars from toppling over during an earthquake or from continued erosion. Invasive non-native vegetation will be removed and native species will be planted to help stabilize the slope.
The clifftop access point in the 900 block of Neptune Avenue, near the end of Leucadia Boulevard, began as a walking trail over 50 years ago. A better trail was built after a major landslide in the early 1980s, Taber said.
Heavy foot traffic at this location, a popular surf spot in the neighborhood, adds to the wear and tear on the fragile slope.
In 2018, the city proposed building a wooden staircase supported by concrete pillars leading to the beach, a project expected to cost around $3.5 million. However, the city’s planning commission rejected the idea, saying the design was inappropriate for the site.
A proposal to slow erosion by building a seawall at the base of the cliffs was rejected in 2009 by the state Department of Parks and Recreation, which said the structure would be inconsistent with environmental policies.
Like much of nearby Carlsbad Beach, Beacon is state-owned and officially known as Leucadia State Beach. The city maintains access to the beach under an agreement with the state.
The beach is said to have taken its name from an aircraft beacon mounted on the cliff overlooking the ocean in the late 1930s. At some point over the years an unnecessary apostrophe was added.
Leucadia resident and former Surfer Magazine editor Doug Fiske researched the problem and found maps and a 1963 “Surfing Guide to Southern California Beaches” that listed it as “Beacon Beach,” according to an article in the San Diego Reader.