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City Council may order breakwater change study

Published on Press-Telegram 6/14/2008 

LONG BEACH – A city study on possible changes to the breakwater, which protects Long Beach's coast but also reduces waves to a ripple, may soon get under way.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider approving a contract of up to $100,000 with Long Beach firm Moffatt and Nichol to conduct the reconnaissance study. The study would examine whether there is a federal interest in reconfiguring the breakwater, a move that potentially could improve water quality along the coast, according to a city report.

Also Tuesday, the council will consider supporting changes to a state Assembly bill that would give local governments more say in where sex offenders may live and will discuss a recently released audit that outlines financial problems facing the Long Beach Museum of Art.

The council meets at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.

The future of the breakwater has been a contentious issue in Long Beach for years.

The breakwater was built in the 1940s to protect the Port of Long Beach and the now-closed Long Beach Naval Base, but some people say it came at the detriment of the city's beaches.

Proponents of altering the breakwater say it traps pollution from the Los Angeles River and eliminates waves at the beaches.

Opponents say removing all or part of the breakwater could erode the shoreline and put homes and lives at risk from flooding, especially on the Alamitos Bay Peninsula.

"We're not advocating recklessly taking down the breakwater and endangering lives or property," said proponent Robert Palmer, chairman of the Long Beach chapter of the

Surfrider Foundation. "It's about bringing back the waves and revitalizing our beach."

But Rick Brizendine, a board member for the Peninsula Beach Preservation Group, said Long Beach's coastal pollution has more to do with the Los Angeles River than the breakwater. The council shouldn't misspend money on the reconnaissance study, he said.

"We would rather see the dollars spent on eliminating the source of the pollution," Brizendine said.

The council voted last July to fund the reconnaissance study, which the city will do with money from the largely oil-revenue-supported Tidelands Fund.

However, the city may be able to pay for half of the study with a $50,000 grant that it has received from the California Coastal Conservancy, a city report says. That grant funding is contingent upon a $30,000 federal appropriation from Congress for the Army Corps of Engineers to formally accept and review the city's study, the report says.

The study is expected to take nine months to a year to complete and is only the first of many steps that would be required to reconfigure the breakwater.

If the Corps of Engineers agrees to review the study and determines there is a federal interest, then the next step would be the completion of a more in-depth feasibility study.

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