Coastal Panel Gives Del Mar Seawall New Lease on Life

Times Staff Writer

California Coastal Commission members granted Del Mar beachfront property owners a reprieve Friday, extending until Oct. 1 the deadline for tearing down a 480-foot seawall built along the public beach.

The $300,000 wooden structure, built in mid-1983 to protect private homes north and south of 25th Street, was granted as a temporary “emergency” measure by Del Mar city officials following the damaging winter storms earlier that year.

Coastal commissioners first ordered removal of the seawall in December, 1983, setting a June, 1984, deadline. They said the seawall, which extends about 15 feet beyond private property lines onto the beach, was built without applying for permits required under the state Coastal Act.

Later extensions of the demolition deadline were granted by the commissioners after Del Mar officials began work on a compromise ordinance, which would require beachfront landowners to remove all encroachments from the public beach in return for permission to erect a permanent protective seawall on public property.


Coastal Commission regional analyst Deborah Lee said the staff had recommended the time extension to the commission so that the Del Mar City Council could complete a re-study of its proposed beach encroachment ordinance.

The proposed city ordinance contains a time schedule for removal of private encroachments from land that the city claims as public beach. Under the schedule, relatively inexpensive improvements would be removed in a few months after passage of the ordinance, and expensive encroachments, such as patios and seawalls, would be given a life span of up to 10 years before removal.

The Del Mar City Council had scheduled a final vote on the beach encroachment ordinance earlier this year but threats of lawsuits against the city by some property owners caused the council to delay it for re-study.