Surfers’ Point, located at Seaside Park in the City of San Buenaventura, approximately 30 miles southeast of Santa Barbara, is one of the most popular coastal recreation areas in California’s Ventura County.

Why does this project matter?

The City of Ventura collaborated with a working group that included Surfrider Foundation Ventura Chapter, BEACON, California Coastal Conservancy, Ventura County Fairgrounds, and others, to guide the design and implementation of a multi-objective, long-term solution for the restoration of Surfers’ Point.

This popular public access point for coastal recreation was impacted by erosion, and functioned in a degraded state for decades. The Surfers’ Point Managed Shoreline Retreat project relocated the coastal trail and parking landward by up to 80 feet and restored the back beach with a cobble berm overlaid with vegetated sand dunes, effectively widening the beach to a naturally resilient form and locating infrastructure away from coastal hazards.

The project is widely referenced as a model for managed retreat and was highlighted as a case study for natural shoreline infrastructure as part of California’s 4th Assessment of Climate Change.

What is ESA doing to help?

ESA led the waterside design of the innovative and publicized Surfers’ Point Managed Shoreline Retreat project. The project was split into two phases along adjacent reaches of the shore to accommodate available construction funding.

During preliminary design (2005), ESA developed the geomorphic design of the restored cobble berm and sand dunes at Surfers’ Point based on a local reference site at Emma Wood State Park and recommended a setback distance for the relocated trail and parking based on estimated extreme wave runup limits. During final engineering design (2007-2010), the team developed construction plans and specifications for the waterside design and worked with civil engineers and landscape designers to integrate the beach restoration elements into the entire project.

Engineering support was also provided during construction of the Phase 1 project in 2010-2011. The project team subsequently helped the city to design and construct sand dunes; working with a city crew on-site to grade the dunes, and dune seeding was completed using a volunteer-based approach led by the Surfrider Foundation.

ESA has also led post-construction monitoring over the past decade since construction of the Phase 1 project, and teamed with the City survey crew, who provided topographic data for documenting annual monitoring reports. In 2022, the team completed the final engineering design documents for the waterside components of the Phase 2 project, anticipated to be constructed after securing funding.

Our engineers and regulatory specialists also provided permit support for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Regional Water Quality Control Board permits and described the project’s resilience to sea-level rise for the California Coastal Commission’s Coastal Development Permit update.


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Client City of Ventura

Location San Buenaventura, CA


2012 American Society of Engineers Region 9 Outstanding Bikeways & Trails Project Award

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