seacliff state beach chris spohrer zach friend dawn addis jimmy panetta john laird
Chris Spohrer (left), the District Superintendent for Santa Cruz’s State Parks, describes the damage at Seacliff State Beach for Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend, Assemblywoman Dawn Addis, Congressman Jimmy Panetta and Senator John Laird on Jan. 13. Photo: Todd Guild/The Pajaronian

SEACLIFF—The tidal surge that ravaged Seacliff State Beach on Jan. 5 destroyed much of the park’s protective sea wall, all but destroyed the campground and ravaged the pier so severely that the entire structure is “actively failing” and likely beyond repair.

That was the message Friday from Chris Spohrer, the District Superintendent for Santa Cruz’s State Parks, who gave a tour of the County’s storm damaged areas to a group of reporters and elected leaders.

“It was a pretty catastrophic event,” he said.

The tour included Assemblywoman Dawn Addis, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, Senator John Laird and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend. 

Public access to the 92-year-old park—one of the first state beaches in California—has been limited since waves hit, reaching as high as the bluffs and rendering the cliffs unstable.

The waves also destroyed the utilities—including the underground infrastructure that served the campground, Spohrer said.

“This is a very meaningful park, and we are going to try to do everything we can to maintain that,” he said. “But this park is going to look different into the future. It has changed significantly.”

Parks officials estimate the damage to the campground and sea wall will exceed $30 million.

With funding uncertain as local and state leaders seek emergency assistance, it is unclear whether the pier that once led to the Cement Ship will be rebuilt, Spohrer said. 

“Our focus is going to be in a resilient park, and the pier is probably a lower priority right now than the campground,” he said. 

To help with the recovery efforts, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks on Friday launched the Seacliff State Beach Recovery Fund, which will allow anyone to donate to help in the park’s recovery. For information, visit

Also on Friday, the County of Santa Cruz formally requested state and federal assistance through the California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA) to help pay for damages incurred on Dec. 30, then the first of several atmospheric river storms hit.

County officials say the damages—still being tallied—exceed $55 million.

Once President Joe Biden approves the declaration—likely this weekend—it will make Santa Cruz County eligible for state and  federal aid.

Such requests establish eligibility for financial assistance from State and federal sources. 

But even once such a declaration is made, receiving funds can be challenging. According to County spokesman Jason Hoppin, the County still has nearly $70 million in unreimbursed Federal Emergency Management Agency costs from the CZU Complex Fires and the Covid-19 pandemic.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


  1. Global Climate change will cost us money. we have no choice but to eliminate all technology that creates CO2. and we need to restore our beaches as they not only provide recreation, but also tourist dollars.


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