San Elijo Lagoon's $102 Million Historic Restoration Starts!

“Today we celebrate a milestone in protecting nature and connecting communities,” Stated Doug Gibson

At the San Elijo Lagoon’s nature center on November 29th, Doug Gibson and several state, regional and local officials — including Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear and State Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) — broke ground on the $102 million historic restoration protect for the nearly 1,000-acre reserve. The final permit was needed for the project to move forward was granted at 9:30 a.m. that Morning.

The $102 million restoration project is part of a the Build North Coast Corridor Program (Build NCC) $6 billion program that was started last that includes building carpool lanes along Interstate 5 between Solana Beach and State Route 78 in Oceanside, the double tracking of the rail line in Encinitas and the construction of a new segment of the Coastal Rail Trail. 

The San Elijo Lagoon’s restoration project is also part of a collection of transit-oriented projects and environmental tradeoffs that is being paid for with federal, state and regional dollars from TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax earmarked for transportation projects. Officials stated the collaboration of the environmental and transportation agencies on these projects is "unprecedented" and a model for future collaborations statewide.

“The San Elijo Lagoon Restoration marks a significant milestone for preserving and enhancing our coastal resources,” said Del Mar Councilman Terry Sinnott, who serves as the vice chairman of the San Diego Association of Governments, the regional transportation agency stewarding the projects.

Caltrans Acting Chief Deputy Director Laurie Berman, echoed Sinnott’s sentiments, saying that “projects like the lagoon restoration mark a shift in how the state transit agency handles projects. Not too long ago you would not have heard of the executive management team crisscrossing the state to develop projects that would have a positive impact on the environment and transportation system." Berman expresses "And I am proud of the work we are doing to build holistic projects, of which a showcase for the rest of the sate."

The first phase of the restoration started November 29th with the clearing of vegetation from the lagoon and constructing a series of dikes along the main lagoon channel and inlet to control water levels, the dredging of 450,000 cubic yards of sand from the central basin that will be used for sand replenishment along the coastlines of Solana Beach and Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and the refilling of the dredging pit with lagoon sediment. 

Subsequent phases will include dredging various channels within the lagoon to increase tidal flows to improve the health of the lagoon, establish new wetland habitat for the lagoon wildlife, and create new pedestrian trails in the lagoon.

 “It has been a long time coming,” Gibson expresses and confides that a result of the restoration efforts, visitors to the lagoon will see healthier waters, more wildlife and better access to the lagoon.

Author Bio


Christine adores Cardiff-by-the-Sea.  She is passionate about the environment, animals and health, including a great love for her family and the outdoors. She is dedicated to making a difference through diligence, perseverance, strategy, education, awareness and change.