Stonesteps Beach Access in Leucadia open after long delays


Stonesteps Beach Access in the Encinitas community of Leucadia reopened June 21 after several months of repair work. (Encinitas city photo)

Owen Pratt

Leucadia’s Stonesteps Beach Access has finally reopened to the public after months of repairs and construction.

On Wednesday, June 21, the city of Encinitas announced that essential repairs had been completed, finishing the job around noon.

“Final materials arrived during the week of June 5,” a news release stated. “Emergency repairs were complete on June 21 and at 12noon, Stonesteps Beach Access reopened following the emergency repair.”

Tucked away in Leucadia, the long stairway brings residents down to a narrow beach, hidden from the general public. The steps are built off a steep cliff, made up of both concrete and wooden materials. A mural made of mosaic tile is featured on a manmade wall, detailing a mermaid, ocean wave and seashell.

The steps were closed on Jan. 11 after the stairway platform and support beam were determined as “structurally compromised and unsafe” by the city’s structural engineer and contractor.

“The beam supporting both the platform and the timber staircase is structurally compromised, requiring closure of the stairs and beach access until repairs could be completed,” a Jan. 25 staff report reads. Residents were encouraged to visit Beacon’s or Moonlight Beach in the meantime.

According to the report, an emergency declaration was made on Jan. 25 in an effort to expedite the process. Costs were first estimated at $99,780. In a string of news center updates, residents were initially told construction would last over a month, with six weeks for material deliveries and two weeks for repairs. Over the span of five months, updates were regularly shared, detailing most of the construction process.

However, factors pertaining to construction led to multiple delays.

According to a June 14 staff report, the city reached out to multiple contractors, with two declining after viewing the steps. JC Baldwin, a Carlsbad-based construction company, was eventually hired for the job. The process began with a structural engineer updating technical specifications, which were needed to fix the beams, brackets and hardware.

Before repairs could start, materials had to be custom manufactured to meet requirements. Parts were not fully ordered until April, with fabrication and onsite mobilization estimated to be done in May.

On May 9, the city reported that fabrication of all parts had been completed, with the exception of the two structural beams, still requiring pressure treatment. Around three weeks later, the contractor mobilized onsite, bracing and shoring the steps followed by demolition.

A June 14 staff report revealed that $250,000 dollars was added to the budget, with $233,865 going toward an emergency contract and $16,135 for any unexpected costs. The final costs will be tallied once all repairs are complete and JC Baldwin receives final invoices.

“Additional work is required at the beach access and will be scheduled at a future date,” the city’s final news center update stated. “This work will be initiated after permitting and material procurement takes place. The actual future work will be scheduled in advance outside the busy summer season with the contractor to minimize impacts to beach access.”

The Stonesteps Beach Access is located at 340 S. El Portal St.

Owen Pratt is a local freelance writer.