Encinitas seawall fight could go to high court - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Encinitas seawall fight could go to high court

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ENCINITAS (CBS 8) - It was built to protect seaside homes from waves crashing ashore. Now a seawall in Encinitas, which was initially destroyed during a 2010 storm, is at the center of a battle between neighbors and the Coastal Commission.

It measures 100 feet and also includes a staircase, which the two homeowners above built to protect their properties.

They rebuilt after that storm but the Coastal Commission was able to limit the life of that wall to 20 years, which the residents' lawyer says is wrong.

"Now the coastal act is very clear that you can rebuild a storm-battered structure even without a permit, but the commission ignored the law, took jurisdiction over the staircase and said that our clients could not rebuild it," Paul Beard II said.

Beard, from Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento, made a video to explain to the public what is going on with this case.

In September, an appellate court ruled the Coastal Commission could limit the wall to a life of 20 years. On Monday, Beard filed a petition asking the state supreme court to review the case.

CBS News 8 spoke to him over the phone Tuesday. He says when the wall was rebuilt after the 2010 storm, the property owners had the proper permits to do so.

At issue is the fact that while the Coastal Commission initially granted them permission, they now want to limit that permit to expire in 20 years, at which point the families would have to appeal to renew.

Beard believes this all comes down to the Coastal Commission wanting to ban seawalls all together.

Beard says this case could affect the future of other structures along California's coastline, so it's not just these two homeowners who are affected.

John Turbeville, a professor of geology and oceanography and Mira Costa College and Encinitas resident, spoke to CBS News 8 about the ramifications of removing the seawall.

"The cliffs are going to recede, and whatever is in its path will recede into it," he said.

On the other hand, he says, with the barrier in place, while the homes are protected, the surrounding area is at risk.

"If you put up a seawall, you're making the sand lower and making erosion occur faster just from cutting off that sand source," Turbeville said.

The Coastal Commission spokesperson tells CBS News 8 the current appeal doesn't warrant consideration by the Supreme Court.

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