Coast Blvd. stair replacement suspended: City waits for nearby HOA to repair cavity in seawall

The fence has prohibited access for all of 2016
The fence has prohibited access for all of 2016
(Light File)

It was the end of 2015 when a strong storm obliterated the staircase that leads to a beach area known as The Horseshoe near 100 Coast Blvd. At the start of 2016, an organized effort began to get them replaced, and the work continued. Now, one full year later, the access remains fenced off and without stairs, but Day One of construction to rebuild them is growing near.

According to the City, construction is almost ready to begin, pending a repair to the seawall near the base of what will be the new staircase. Public information officer Mónica Muñoz reports: “The design of this project has been completed and we have awarded it to a contractor. The site observation performed at the beginning revealed there was a void under the seawall that is owned by the adjacent homeowner’s association (HOA).

“We advised the HOA to have this evaluated by an independent geo-technical firm. The HOA hired a consultant and shared the findings with us back in early November. The report recommended repairs in order to preserve and maintain the seawall. Since it’s imperative the repairs be done first, the City notified the HOA that we would suspend our project until they completed the repairs. Once the repairs are finished, we can move ahead with our project. We have been e-mailing the HOA, but have not yet received a response from them.”

A representative from the HOA did not respond to La Jolla Light’s inquiry.

After the storm blew the stairs from its hinges, the City fenced off the top of the staircase that leads to the north end of Marine Street Beach. The staircase is at the end of a walkway delineated by hedges off Coast Boulevard, and signage indicating it is a California Coastal Commission beach access.

Motivated by the importance of maintaining frequent beach access points across La Jolla, and the safety hazard posed by limiting access for lifeguards, La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group formed a sub-committee to investigate what it would take to get the stairs replaced.

As previously reported in the Light, sub-committee chair Nancy Linck said, “The stairs provide access for lifeguards, fire-fighters and police to Marine Street, which is important because part of the year, the access at Marine Street itself is difficult because the sand is washed out. So the stairs at 100 Coast are an alternative. The only other option is way down Coast Boulevard, and at high tide, you cannot access the area. Several committee members reached out to the lifeguards and other safety personnel, who agreed that the missing stairs are a safety issue. The City needs to act immediately.”

Initially, the group was told the stairs were beyond repair and would have to be built from scratch. As such, the project would have to be ADA-compliant and meet current City Code and would take years. Other questions, such as who would pay for the reinstatement, whether they could be classified as a “repair” or a “replacement,” the potential schedule, cost and source of funding, and more went unanswered.

Ultimately, the sub-committee fought for the project to be considered an “emergency” at the City level and be treated as such in getting it replaced. In June, representatives from the City Council member Sherri Lightner’s office announced the City had agreed to that declaration.

At that time Lightner told La Jolla Light, “I strongly support the decision to designate the Coast Boulevard stair replacement as an emergency. This is an important coastal access and public safety issue, and our office will continue to work with City staff to expedite this project.”

Soon after, City representatives said work would begin in October, but the discovery of the cavity in the seawall and the resulting work with the HOA caused a delay. That month, at the La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting, Linck said with the imminent winter, she did not expect work to begin by the end of the year.

An update will likely be provided at the next La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group meeting, 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.