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Breakwater Breakdown: Will The Harbor Commission Put It’s Money Where Cordero’s Mouth Is?

Published 8/7/2007 on The District Weekly

Keeping a promise he made to the Long Beach City Council last month, Harbor Commissioner President Mario Cordero will ask the Port of Long Beach on Monday to contribute $50,000 toward a so-called reconnaissance study of the Breakwater—an examination of the cost-effectiveness of reconfiguring the rock wall that blocks waves from the local shoreline.

Cordero stood before the city council on July 24 with the teasing proposition that, perhaps, the port could meet the city halfway in funding the long-awaited federal study. Anxious to get started, however, the council approved full funding of the $100,000 study from the city’s Tidelands Fund. The vote was 7-1 with Third District Councilman Gary DeLong dissenting.

But Cordero, appointed in 2003 by former Mayor Beverly O’Neil—a homeowner on the Alamitos Peninsula, where most residents oppose any change to the Breakwater– has made a personal commitment to add the port’s name to the benefactor list, if possible.
Cordero says he is “open to the idea” of giving up some green toward the study because it may correlate with the port’s relatively new “green” environmental policy. The port allotted $116 million of its new $644 million budget toward environmental projects. However, Cordero emphasizes that his—and the port’s—commitment stops with the reconnaissance study, which is only the first of several tangled phases that might lead to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ relinquishing its control of the Breakwater it completed in the 1940s.

In essence, then, the extra $50,000 toward the Breakwater study is largely symbolic–a way to signal the change in the port’s philosophy to a public that is clearly excited about removing the structure, while potentially lending to improved water quality in the future.
Besides, in another sense, the port would be paying for the Breakwater study either way. According to Long Beach’s city charter, the port must give 10 percent of its net income to the Tidelands Fund—the money the city has decided to use to fund the reconnaissance study. In October, this year’s contribution—the largest ever—will transfer $15.4 million to the Tidelands Fund.

On Monday, the port may give a little more.

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