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West Cliff Vision Resource Guide – Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve

There have been a lot of requests for information on West Cliff. Here is our consolidation of resources to help navigate information and questions, including "How did we get here?"

This page contains sections on : 1) Timeline of key events at West Cliff 2) Upcoming meetings and what you can do 3) the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve committment and 4) PDFs and resources from the City.

Timeline:

  1. April 27th, 2021- The West Cliff Drive Adaptation and Management Plan was adopted by the Santa Cruz City Council, the main plan in place for West Cliff. The City took the Plan and the Local Coastal Program amendment to the California Coastal Commission; however, the City is still waiting on approval from the commission. Triggers from the plan were severely overpassed in the January 2022 storm and further damages occurred in 2023 storms. 
  2. January 5th, 2023- a west-south-west swell (26 feet@18 second from 255 degrees) combined with a 7-foot high tide hit Santa Cruz: West Cliff Drive between Columbia Road and David Way severely damaged by large swells causing portions of the roadway and path to fail, along with impacts to public access points, utility infrastructure, and the surrounding neighborhood. Initial estimates are $20 million needed for repairs, construction and armoring at the most damaged portions of the cliffside drive
  3. January 21st, 2023- Save West Cliff, a community driven group is launched to raise awareness about the issue at stake and to help the community develop a plan.
  4. May 23, 2023- The City Council directs City staff to move forward with developing a vision for West Cliff Drive and to draft a Roadmap of actions for the next three years, as well as a 50-year vision plan. 
  5. August 8th, 2023- Following the damages in January 2023, the City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department also worked with the California Coastal Commission on scoping an approach to repair the damaged areas to the north and south of Woodrow Avenue. After discussions with the Coastal Commission about engineering approaches for the repairs, emergency coastal development permits were issued to the City of Santa Cruz and construction began in Fall 2023. 
  6. City of Santa Cruz Public Works Recommendations – Three types of permanent repair projects are contemplated, including replacement of lost rip-rap, targeted construction of infill walls at acute erosion points, and potentially full reconstruction and elevation of the roadway at Bethany Culvert with supporting funding sources from: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and/or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

a. Infill Walls:

i. Located at 920, 932, 1016, and 1030 West Cliff Drive.

ii. Estimated Cost: $5,000,000

b. Repair/Replace Bethany Curve Culvert:

i. Estimated Cost: $10,000,000

ii. Estimated Completion: Summer 2024

c. Armoring/Rip-rap Repair:

i. Various locations

ii. Estimated Cost: $2,000,000

  1. April 27th, 2023- Community Conversations In Person Meeting 
  2. June 6th, 2023- Community Conversations: Roadmap
  3. August 15th, 2023- City Council Study Session
  4. October 3rd, 2023- Public Meeting
  5. October 7th, 2023- 50-year Community Vision, Community Meeting
  6. December 5th, 2023 Public Meeting and Survey
  7. January 30th, 2024- 50-year Community Vision research recap 
  8. February 29th, 2024- 50-year vision for West Cliff feedback meeting

8. August 2023- Farallon Strategies publishes- ‘A Resilient West Cliff, Accessible to All Roadmap’ in.

9. December 7th, 2023- January 10, 2024: City of Santa Cruz Public Opinion Poll with EMC Research open from: The City of Santa Cruz partners with EMC Research to conduct a comprehensive public opinion poll on future conditions for West Cliff. City residents randomly selected to participate receive a postcard in the mail containing a survey link. RESULTS

10. February 23rd, 2024- The City’s West Cliff 50-year draft vision document is released with a comment form open to feedback until March 10th.

11. March 2nd, 2024- Petition for 2-way starts

12. April 4th, 2024- City releases an updated 50-Year Draft Vision with community responses incorporated.

Upcoming:

April 9th, 2024 – City council to vote on approval of the 50-year vision draft and if approved the implementation roadmap will be evaluated for projects and actions to be completed in 10-year increments dependent on funding and project approval timelines.

What Can you do?

  1. Review the data and details of the 50-year draft vision document, the Resilient West Cliff Plan, and the Accessible to All Roadmap
  2. Provide comments or questions to the City at the form, here.
  3. Attend the City Council meeting in-person at City Hall or virtually online on April 9th, starting at 11:45AM and West Cliff is item 20. City Staff will give an overview on the 50-year draft vision and City Council will vote on approval. Link to the City Council meeting agenda is located here.

More Information: West Cliff page on City of Santa Cruz website

Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve Commitment:

The Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve partook in each and every meeting hosted by the City about West Cliff and posted on social media to help notify the community. The WSR also hosted a West Cliff paddle with city staff, engineers, and community members to view the cliffs from the water, see the ‘surfers perspective’ and discuss the future of the coastline. 

The World Surfing Reserve’s focus is to protect the waves of Santa Cruz and maintain a healthy surf ecosystem.

We encourage the City to continue building and exploring science-driven approaches including 

nature-based solutions and natural feature restoration in the near and long-term to ensure that any engineering solutions take into account and mitigate any damage to the waves of West Cliff Drive and the coastal ecosystem. We are supportive of the City creating a ‘Sustainability and Resilience Committee’ and would request such a committee include surfers as users and stewards of the nearshore areas along the coast of West Cliff. 

Helpful Docs and Resources from the City:

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