– Viewpoint –Letter to Supervisors and California Coastal Commission

Greetings California Coastal Commissioner Heidi Harmon and SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson,

My name is Paul Andreano and I am a resident of Cayucos in SLO County. I am writing today to ask both the Commission and the County to help stop what amounts to illegal discharge and dumping on the beach by several homeowners along Studio Drive, south of Del Mar St., in Cayucos.

As you are aware, severe storms and king tides in December/January caused significant erosion to the coastal bluffs and cliffs in Cayucos. A number of property owners along the beach responded by filling poly-woven (plastic) sandbags with beach sand as a form of erosion control. Now, after some time has passed, the plastic bags have started to become degraded by sunlight and abraded by driftwood and high tides. The result is what amounts to huge dump sites of plastic that are now contaminating the beaches and water with trash. The poly-woven bags break down first into strands that could become entangled with wildlife and work the plastic deeper into the food web. I have never before seen so much plastic on one of the north coast beaches. Today, microplastics are a significant portion of the wrack line throughout this stretch of beach and I would entreat you to go see for yourself, my photos hardly do it justice.

These homeowners chose the cheapest possible way to provide protection to their multi-million dollar properties: plastic bags shoveled full of beach sand. It is now painfully obvious how much litter they have created. Today I watched a man who was piling driftwood on top of his plastic bags, either in an effort to conceal them or make them more resilient. Unless these people are required to remove the bags, the plastic will reside on our beaches and in our waters for generations.

I sincerely hope one of you is concerned enough to take this up. I’m really not sure who else to turn to, and I know both of you have been strong champions of environmental causes.

Thank you both for your time and I look forward to hearing back. Please, if you can think of someone that I should be contacting instead, I would appreciate their contact information.

Update to Original Letter

I just spoke with Bruce Gibson’s office. They are aware of the problem. They said the plan is to leave it alone until spring! Then the County intends to pay EcoSLO to remove all of the plastic from the beach.

So they are planning on letting all this plastic leech for the rest of the winter. Then the County will foot the bill to clean up the mess these (many out of town) property owners made. Apparently there is an issue with “proving” the property owners actually filled the bags on their property.

Paul Andreano


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