PORT HUENEME— An effort to acquire a permit to fortify emergency shore protection was successful when the California Coastal Commission approved the motion by an 11-1 vote July 10.
Despite legislators acquiring $2 million in state funding to ensure shore protection and mitigate erosion, the Coastal Commission required a permit to shore up the beach with boulders. Without the long-range permit, Port Hueneme would have been forced to dip into limited reserves to secure protection measures.
“It’s a huge problem,” Coastal Commissioner Mary Shallenberger said. “But it’s one I’m struggling with. It’s a problem created by the federal government.”
Concerned citizen and supporters of “Save Hueneme Beach” sent letters and emails to Congressional representatives urging action, which proved victorious. The beach will receive 2.2 million cubic yards of sand from the Channel Islands sand trap — marking the most sand ever to be placed on the beach.
“I think that we need to do this,” Coastal Commissioner Jana Zimmer said. “Normally we’re not excited about rock revetments, but clearly these are to protect coastal dependent uses and public access to the beach.”
In early June, Greg Brown, the Port Hueneme’s city community development director, expressed concern when it was reported that the Coastal Commission would not hear the issue until its October meeting.
Prior to the Coastal Commission’s approval, the city had received three emergency permits, as well as permanent permits from the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Regional Water Board to take action. Brown added, to date, the city has applied for long-range permits from all regulatory agencies.
“We have our emergency permits into the first 1,100 feet,” he said of the area which extends to the fishing pier. “We anticipate we’ll have to do a little more before dredging occurs this fall.”
According to a press release, the city submitted its emergency permit to Coastal Commission staff March 25. In April, a large section of the city’s seawall, as well as a segment of sidewalk, collapsed due to severe high tide events. The Port Hueneme Pier was also damaged, losing four structural piling to the violent waves and lack of sand. The incident has closed the pier indefinitely.
Brown said local sand moves at a rate of about 100,000 cubic yards a month. He added that the beaches last eroded significantly in 1995, and the Corps makes money available for dredging. Sand is acquired from Channel Islands Harbor to replenish the beach.
“This is going to far exceed $2 million,” Brown said. “We exceed $500,000 out of our pocket. This next 600 [feet], we’re looking to be reimbursed by the state, and, with any further extension, hopefully we have money remaining to be reimbursed by the state. They are only paying for the shoreline protections. So the design, engineering, and the cost of the rock, they will reimburse us for, but all of the recreational improvements we’re going to have to pay for.”
Under a 1995 Water Resources Reform and Development act, the government is responsible for 100 percent of the cost of moving 2.5 million cubic yards every two years, he added.
“It’s a significant hit for a fairly modest community,” Brown said. “This isn’t Malibu. It’s a Navy blue-collar working town. This is a significant financial impact as well just a high-perception impact and a lack of confidence in the federal government based on its obligations.”