Skip to main content

Surfers Beach Restoration

Project Location:Pillar Point Harbor
Status:Technical Specs & Permitting in Progress, Permitting in process for ellgrass mitigation. 
Initial Funding:November 16, 2017
Estimated Completion:Summer 2022
Description:To address coastal erosion and public access at Surfers Beach by using sand in the boat launch area to replenish the beach.
Justification:Sediment is building up inside the outer breakwater and needs to be moved; simultaneously coastal erosion is occurring to the adjacent Surfers Beach area outside of the breakwater.  Securing permitting to move the sand would be beneficial to both areas.
Strategic Goal/Operating Impact:1) Comprehensive Long-Range Planning Guides District Actions and Decision-Making.
 2) Environmental Stewardship

o   Recently received a Surfers Beach project design report and permitting level construction plans for both the Surfers Beach Pilot Restoration Project and the large eelgrass mitigation project that is being required by permitting agencies. As far as recent project updates, there has been quite a bit of progress recently: 


With the 30% construction plan and design report available now we have been able to hold pre-application meetings with permitting agencies to discuss the details of the permitting process. In early July we presented the proposed project at an Army Corps of Engineers hosted Interagency Meeting. This was a meeting to discuss the permitting process for the project as well as the required eelgrass mitigation project. We received good feedback from staff from Army Corps, Coastal Commission, Regional Water Quality Control Board, NOAA Fisheries, and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. We have also held several follow up meetings with agencies to discuss the project and the requirements and specifics of the permitting process and required studies, surveys, etc. We plan on submitting permit applications for the project in the next several weeks as soon as the remaining surveys, studies are completed. 

Eelgrass Mitigation:

The biggest reason for project delays is that in 2019 eelgrass beds were discovered in the proposed dredging areas along the east breakwater and some other shallow areas, so we’ve had to develop a Harbor Wide Eelgrass Management and Mitigation Plan. Since eelgrass is such an important habitat for resource agencies to protect, we’ve had to do a lot of work to satisfy agency concerns and convince them that dredging in the East basin is necessary for maintaining safe navigation, etc. The solution being proposed is to create new eelgrass habitat at the west breakwater dogleg (where another eelgrass bed exists). This involves dredging shallow areas and placing fill in the deeper areas as well as importing some fill from the boat launch ramps to create a “platform” at -1 to -4 feet NAVD that will comprise 7+ acres of submerged land. Once the sediment settles and condenses then eelgrass will be harvested from east basin dredge area, bundled and transplanted at the new site. It’s a huge project on its own, let alone the Surfers Beach pilot restoration project. However, the eelgrass mitigation is necessary to allow for future dredging in the PPH East basin. We are applying for a 10 year permit from Army Corps that would allow future dredging in the east basin at the launch ramps and anywhere else, regardless of eelgrass status at that time, since we will have mitigated for all the eelgrass as part of the upcoming project. 


The District has much of the funding in the current 5-year budget for both projects and the Board of Harbor Commissioners is very much in support of the project. However, given the engineers estimate in the new design report, which was higher than previous estimates, there currently is still a funding shortfall between what is budgeted (including grant funding) and the proposed costs. The engineer’s estimate for the eelgrass mitigation was $1.8 million and for Surfers Beach project an additional $2.9 million. The engineer’s estimate does include a large contingency and is targeted to be higher than the lowest bids. The dredging plans include a footprint for up to 100,000 cubic yards which would increase cost by an estimated $700K (i.e. over the estimated cost for the originally proposed volume of 75K cy). Permit applications have been prepared for a volume of up to 100K cy.

Additional funding is actively being sought by the District. We applied for 7 other grants (most within the last 2 years) to fund project construction but unfortunately nothing came through. We will continue to seek more as more grant funds are announced. We will also explore cost sharing opportunities with other jurisdictions that would benefit from the project. This includes Caltrans, City of Half Moon Bay and County of San Mateo. 


We are still shooting for late Spring/summer 2022 to do both projects (phased approach first eelgrass dredging/filling, followed by surfers beach dredging and beach placement and transplanting of eelgrass several weeks after the mitigation site is constructed), but that all depends on getting all the permitting approvals, getting funding squared away, bringing the project to bid, and getting approval by the Board of Harbor Commissioners.


May contain: sea, ocean, water, nature, outdoors, shoreline, and coast