Long Beach Breakwater will remain intact

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won’t remove offshore barrier, ending a multi-year study.

LONG BEACH—Hang Zero. Such will be the phrase uttered by local surfers after an attempt to have the breakwater off the coast of Long Beach removed ended in failure in November. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, after studying the request for several years, announced it would not remove the offshore, wave-control barrier just off the Long Beach shoreline.

Army Corps staff stated any modifications to Long Beach Breakwater would pose a national security risk.

Surfrider Foundation had spearheaded a campaign to remove the breakwater, hoping the offshore barrier’s removal would result in more wave action on the Long Beach coast.

The foundation’s campaign specifically called for either the sinking of the breakwater or a reconfiguration of the offshore barrier.

Any alteration of Long Beach Breakwater – which is the easternmost of three breakwaters just south of the Long Beach/San Pedro coast – would also help restore and expand aquatic habitats along this stretch of the Southern California Bight, according to a draft report released by the Army Corp.

The Long Beach coast was once a destination for surfers, but the Hang Ten-worthy waves disappeared after the Army Corps built a series of breakwaters just beyond the local harbor area. The Army Corps ultimately decided to not make any changes to Long Beach Breakwater, instead proposing a plan to restore and expand aquatic habitats in the area with eelgrass beds, kelp reefs and rocky reefs.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said he was disappointed by the Army Corps’ decision. The city, he said, spent 14 years trying to find a way to reconfigure Long Beach Breakwater. Reconfiguring and restoring the breakwater, Garcia added, would have benefited the local ecosystem.

“I am incredibly disappointed with the results and conclusions made by the Army Corps. I’ve agreed with many members of the community who believe that modifications to the breakwater could lead to ecosystem restoration, better water quality and recreational opportunities,” Garcia said in an official statement. “I was hopeful that breakwater modification was possible while protecting coastal homes and our port complex.

“However, I have always said that we should be guided by the science and the data,” Garcia continued. “The Army Corps’ conclusion that any modification to the breakwater poses a national security risk is substantial and must be taken seriously.”

City officials offered to foot most of the $3 million bill to modify Long Beach Breakwater. The extension of a financial olive branch wasn’t incentive enough, however, to convince the Army Corps to move forward with Long Beach’s breakwater modification plans.

So, what’s next? The Army Corps will spend the next few weeks seeking public comment. A draft plan of what the Army Corps might do is available for review through Jan. 27, 2020. Comments and questions can be submitted to ESPB@usace.army.mil or by calling Naeem Siddiqui, who is with the Army Corps’ ecosystem planning section, at 213-452-4204. Anyone sending an email to the address above should write “East San Pedro Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study Draft IFR Review Comments” in the subject line.

Two public meetings were already held at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Dec. 9.

Visit bit.ly/2DNHgxX to view the draft report and to find out more about the public input process.

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