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BREAKWATER BREAKDOWN:Back to where we started…

Published 1/31/2008 on the District Weekly 

Happy New Year! Here’s your recap:

In 2005, the city of Long Beach asked for a $100,000 federal appropriation to fund a reconnaissance study that would determine the cost-effectiveness of reconfiguring the Long Beach Breakwater — that two-mile wall of boulders capping the city’s coast and retaining swirley toilet water courtesy of the L.A. River.

For two years, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher — representing all of Long Beach’s coastal properties — refused to budget this request with the federal government because he thought the issue was local and undeserving of federal money. But it’s not “local” to him; he lives and surfs at Huntington Beach.

In July 2007, the city of Long Beach circumvented the Rohrabacher roadblock, voting to completely fund the $100,000 recon study alone, using only city and state resources. In December the California Coastal Conservancy donated an additional $50,000 toward the study. Money we’ve got, so now what?

Seven months have gone by with little action. Now, the city has found out embarking on this project alone, as “unprecedented” as it may be, is no longer an option.

Tom Modica, manager of government affairs for the City Manager’s Office, said that the city can spend all the money it wants on a recon study, but that the federal government will not recognize the study if it is not financially involved from the start.

This translates to: If the project has no federal inclusion now in the initial phase, there will be no later phases because the federal government owns the breakwater.

After butting heads with the Corps for half a year, Modica fleshed out an actual figure: $30,000 from the feds will be enough to get this study completed with the Corps’ stamp of approval.

However, this means another appropriation request will land on Rohrabacher’s desk in the spring, giving him another chance to ignore it and go surfing.

In the meantime, the city will try to find a consultant to start the study, giving the job to the lowest bidder. Modica estimates the recon process to be completed by January 2009, hoping to some higher power (a.k.a. Sen. Barbara Boxer) that the request for the pitifully small amount of 30K will be heard.

If you’re feeling faint, you’re not alone.

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