On Tuesday night (6/17), surfers and the Long Beach Surfrider Chapter gained momentum on what has been a 12 year battle for the removal, or at least restructuring, of the Long Beach Breakwater. The City Council voted 6 to 2 to hire the engineering firm Moffatt and Nichols to begin conducting studies on the 2 mile structure. Though the fight is far from over, there is new hope for the deeply polluted and wave-starved beaches running the length of the city.
The breakwater, which was built between 1942 and 1949 by the Navy, served as a safe anchorage for their ships. Until 1997, that is, when the Navy closed it down and left town. “If the breakwater was built for the Navy and the Navy left, why is it still here?” asks Surfrider’s Long Beach Chapter Chairman Robert Palmer. “We’ve got the LA river dumping toxic soup onto our beaches and the Long Beach Breakwater just holds it all in until it slowly drifts to the east, ultimately diluting down near Seal Beach.”
And aside from finally being able to flush the bay of the LA Basin’s dirtiest secrets, the waves will improve too, as open ocean swell will not be blocked. “We’ll get waves back, have better water quality and cleaner sand,” says Palmer. “That’s going to bring more people back to our beaches, which will stimulate coastal businesses.”
Of course, what would a decent Surfrider victory be without a good dose of red tape? According to an LA Times article written by Deborah Schoch, the City’s initial study of the breakwater must be backed up by a $3 million to $5 million feasibility study by the federal government – and that’s just to scientifically legitimize a restructuring effort, not the project itself.
“Even if we just poked holes in the damn thing, and get a two foot boogie-board wave in here, it would clean up the water, the sand and give people a place to come and splash around and have fun,” Palmer says. “That’s all we need.”
So what do you think? Should the breakwater be removed? Leave your comments below.