Beacon’s Beach bluff landscaping project wins approval
Plans to remove the invasive ice plant and other alien species from Beacon’s Beach Bluff and replace it with native plants were unanimously approved by the Encinitas Planning Commission last week.
“I’m very much looking forward to it,” said Commissioner Kevin Doyle, a Leucadia resident, ahead of the vote that approved the main use and coastal development permits for the project.
The actual planting of plants in the ground doesn’t come until much later this year – either November or December – and is timed to use the winter rainy season so the plants do better, said Jennifer Campbell, the city’s parks. Director of Leisure and Cultural Arts.
During the planting season, the popular dirt road that leads down the cliff to the beach will remain open, as will the parking lot on Neptune Avenue, city officials emphasized.
Doyle said the positive response to the new landscaping project at the commission’s meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18, is in stark contrast to another Beacon’s Beach project from 2018 – a freestanding beach access staircase that appeared to float in front of the cliff . The residents of Leucadia hated the idea of a staircase, and the planners ultimately rejected both options for staircase design.
During this “hot topic”, many people complained that the city seemed to be deliberately decaying its longstanding beach access – the dirt road – by not doing regular maintenance. That situation has definitely changed since then, Doyle said, adding that he often receives compliments about how beautiful the trail now looks.
The new landscaping project involves removing various alien species, including ice plants and acacias, and replacing them with clusters of plants native to the coastal region. The list of native plants includes four-winged salt bushes, bladder capsules, box thorn, giant wild rye, bush sunflowers and buckwheat on the coast.
The plan is to hand-plant and hydroseed 700 plants in one-gallon pots.
“Pen flags with a different color for each species will be installed at all locations of the container plants in order to track the survivability in the course of the project,” says the report of the city employees.
They will place the plants in groups of three to four individuals in a random pattern to “mimic natural growth patterns,” it said. “These plantings will appear sparse at first, but the plantings are expected to become established quickly and naturalized within two to three years to provide cover typical of coastal bluff habitats,” he concludes.
The new plants will be watered with a pressurized water truck until they are founded, which is expected to happen in two years.
– Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune