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Morning Report: Oceanside, State at Odds Over Seawalls

Boulder walls — called rip rap or revetments — along beach homes in Oceanside are used to protect properties from waves and high tides. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Oceanside officials have for years allowed homeowners to repair the seawalls they’ve built between their properties and the Pacific Ocean. But rising seas and the waves they bring, which batter boulders loose from those seawalls, have created a bureaucratic dispute between the city and the California Coastal Commission, which regulates construction activity along the coast.

That’s what happened in March, when Oceanside engineers allowed homeowners to maintain and repair beleaguered seawalls, until a coastal preservation group saw the heavy machinery positioned on the public beach and told the Coastal Commission that the work violated state law.

The Coastal Commission agreed, and the city is now contemplating ways to reform its processes [1] while still allowing local residents to repair the seawalls when waves inevitably pull them apart, MacKenzie Elmer reports.

But the standoff is a window into a bigger conversation that’s looming over coastal cities. Oceanside, for now, is not uttering the phrase “managed retreat,” during which, in preparation for continued rising sea levels, officials mandate moving the coastal line inland by buying out property owners and relocating structures. The Coastal Commission, not the city, would be the one to introduce that as a policy option, an Oceanside official told Elmer, and that wouldn’t be necessary for another two decades. (For comparison, 20 years is as far in the future as 9/11 is in the past. Ancient history, right?)

COVID-19 Reopening Rules Are Unfolding in Real Time

We’ve done it, folks. San Diego County reached “herd immunity,” [2] a threshold said to represent a point at which the COVID-19 virus will have a hard time spreading very far or very quickly, with 75 percent of the population 12 and older now having received at least one vaccination dose.  

UC San Diego announced this week that it’ll reverse course and require employees and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 [3] before they return to campus in the fall, NBC San Diego reports. 

The university had previously said it would move forward with a requirement once the FDA had granted full approval to a vaccine (right now all COVID-19 vaccines are allowed under special emergency authorizations).

California State University said Wednesday that for now it will only require a vaccine once one gets full FDA approval.

State regulators, meanwhile, are set to approve new workplace guidelines Thursday [4] that wouldn’t require workers in indoor settings to wear masks if they’re fully vaccinated, a shift from an earlier proposal that would have required masks in workplaces where not everyone is vaccinated.

Across the border, Baja California is still struggling to recover [5] from the pandemic but is faring a little better than Mexico as a whole, according to a new report covered by City News Service.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and MacKenzie Elmer, and edited by Sara Libby.