Following a successful one year agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to assume greater responsibility for beach maintenance, the Carlsbad City Council authorized city staff to explore an expanded, long-term partnership for the management and operations of the entire five miles of state owned beaches in Carlsbad, excluding the South Carlsbad State Beach campground.
“Many people don’t realize that most of our coastline is owned and managed by the state not the city,” said City of Carlsbad Parks & Recreation Director Chris Hazeltine, who presented a report to the City Council Tuesday. “Due to state budget constraints, the beach is just not maintained to the standards our community expects. It is in no way a reflection on the local State Parks folks. They just don’t have the resources necessary.”
In May 2014, the City Council approved an agreement with State Parks to improve the beach-going experience along Carlsbad Boulevard between Tamarack and Pine avenues and to protect the eroded coastal bluff along the seawall. To date, the city has invested about $1 million to improve this area, including upgrading and maintaining the landscaping and irrigation systems, picnic tables, benches and planters, and renovating and maintaining the restroom at Tamarack Avenue. Work on the coastal bluff included removing non-native plants and installing more than 5,000 native plants appropriate to Southern California’s environment and irrigating the seedlings to help them mature.
“The public reaction to these improvements has been overwhelmingly positive,” said City of Carlsbad Parks Superintendent Kyle Lancaster.
The city will now work with State Parks staff to discuss an expanded agreement that could include the city taking responsibility for maintaining the entire five miles of state-owned beach property, excluding the state campground. It could also include the city overseeing recreational programs like junior lifeguards, summer camps and fitness classes and special events, as well as investing in additional restrooms, drinking fountains, showers and picnic areas along the coastline. The city will also explore the option of providing public safety services along the coastline, including lifeguards.
“We would like to bring the coastline up to the same high level of service our community has come to expect from the city,” said Hazeltine. “Tonight’s action will allow us to fully explore these options, including the costs and how they could be paid for. These costs will need to be evaluated in terms of the role the beach plays in our quality of life and tourism economy.”
According to Hazeltine, developing a proposed agreement for the City Council’s consideration could take up to a year, given the complexities involved. He also said partnerships between cities and the state for beach management are not uncommon. Since 1990 the City of Carlsbad has had an agreement with State Parks to maintain the small park at Ocean Street and Pine Avenue. The City of Encinitas has had an agreement with State Parks for beach management since 1989.
The City Council will consider renewing the existing one-year agreement for the Tamarack and Frazee beach maintenance in a separate action. That agreement runs through May 2015.