Let Oceano homeowners clear sand

Once again, a few property owners along Oceano’s Strand Way have seen their oceanfront residences threatened by mounds of sand. And once again, they sought emergency permits to use heavy equipment to clear away the sand.

While it’s frustrating — particularly for these particular property owners— to see this problem recur, we should point out that it used to be much, much worse.

A decade ago, an entire stretch of more than 30 oceanfront homes was endangered by abuildup of huge piles of sand that threatened to overrun retaining walls and damage buildings. Homeowners went so far as to petition the governor for relief after the Coastal Commission turned down their application to remove the sand.

At the time, the Coastal Commission said it wanted a more permanent solution. It asked applicants to submit a long-term management plan to anchor the dunes by planting native vegetation and installing temporary fences during the windy season. Homeowners objected, and understandably so, since the property was owned by the state.

The upshot was, State Parks agreed to plant vegetation in the area and install temporary fencing. That’s helped dramatically, though there is still one small area where sand continues to build up behind a few houses.

The county has issued a couple of emergency permits so that those property owners could clear away the sand. It also recently granted a minor use permit that allows sand to be cleared away five times over the next five years.

But what’s really needed, officials say, is an even more comprehensive management plan that would include a boardwalk.

That would be ideal. But until that day comes, it makes sense to at least let homeowners keep the sand in check, without requiring them to jump through too many hoops. The five-year permit is a start, but if the problem isn’t solved by then, we’d urge the county to consider issuing a permit for a longer period of time.

Editorials are the opinion of The Tribune.