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Moffatt/Nichol Breakwater Study Engineer Acknowledges Port’s Pier J Expansion Suppressed Waves, Resu

Published 7/28/2009om LBReport.com

(July
28, 2009) — Under questioning by 5th dist. Councilwoman Gerrie
Schipske, the principal coastal engineer for Moffatt/Nichol (the firm
hired by the City Council that produced a study on options for
reconfiguring the LB Breakwater) has acknowledged that the Port's
expansion of Pier J reduced waves, created a wave shadow and results in
poor circulation behind impacting the downtown Marina and western
beaches.



"There
is no question that the land that was created, Pier J…, does have
impact on basically reducing waves that approach from the west…and so
it creates a wave shadow, and basically it results in poor circulation
in its lee…behind it, down where downtown Marina is and the western
beaches, no question," said Moffatt/Nichol engineer Russell Boudreau,
adding "[A]bsolutely…the Port development did come with that
price…"


Image circa late 1960s. Source: Port of LB website


Contemporary image source: City of LB

Mr.
Boudreau's statement prompted Councilwoman Schipske to raise the issue
of possible mitigation by the Port, noting that while there's been much
focus on Port impacts on air quality, "I think we need to start maybe
looking at [water quality] and say what contribution does the impact of
the Port have on the fact that the quality of the water in that area
has been degraded significantly."

Councilwoman
Schipske asked city staff to consider creative ways to mitigate the
impact, possibly through container fees since "this is a true direct
impact that this community in some ways does suffer because of the
growth and development of the Port."

The exchange took place during a July 27 Council study session on the Moffatt/Nichol report.

LBReport.com has transcribed the pertinent portion of the exchange between Councilwoman Schipske and Moffatt/Nichol engineer Boudreau.

Councilwoman Schipske:
…Did anybody do any computer modeling about the impact of the
extension of the Port in interfering with tidal action, because, you
know, I was born here; we came down and we used the waves in the 50s
and 60s. The difference is we didn't have a Port that jutted out, that
really in looking at some of your modeling up there, it's very obvious
that it does impact just as much as the Breakwater does.

Moffatt/Nichol engineer Boudreau:
Right. There is no question that the land that was created, Pier J and
what not, does have impact on basically reducing waves that approach
from the west if you will, and so it creates a wave shadow, and
basically it results in poor circulation in its lee, you know, behind
it, down where downtown Marina is and the western beaches, no question.

But the thing is, is that again, we're comparing to what's there now, that's the benchmark.

But absolutely, it does have some, you know, the Port development did come with that price anyway.

Councilwoman Schipske:
…I would hope that we could look to see if there's any way that
because of the impact of Port and the contribution to some of the
problems that are there that we could look to see if there's any way we
can get mitigation from the Port for the problems that have been
created in that area, because I know we are all very concerned about
the pollution that goes in the air, and there's been much focus on the
impact of the Port on the quality of air, but I think we need to start
maybe looking at this and say what contribution does the impact of the
Port have on the fact that the quality of the water in that area has
been degraded significantly.

So
I'm hoping that staff may think of something creative where maybe the
Congressional delegation can also look at something creative when we
talk about Port container fees that, you know, this is a true direct
impact that this community in some ways does suffer because of the
growth and development of the Port.

And
also the reconfiguration of where the L.A. River flows, because that
was done specifically to accommodate the Port, and that has caused
obviously, because that's not the natural flow, so I'm not faulting the
Port but when we look for sources of ways to be able to mitigate this,
I think we have to be realistic and perhaps look in that direction as
well, and I would hope if we do some additional feasibility studies
that they do some modeling about that to show very clearly, because you
can see historical photos that show very clearly we had wave action,
and the thing that is missing is the Port being that far out, or
actually the landfill that wasn't even real at the time…


No Councilmember followed-up on the Moffatt/Nichol engineer's response re Pier J and the potential for Port mitigation.

Prior
to Councilwoman Schipske's exchange, 1st dist. Councilman Robert Garcia
stated after being informed that the initial city cost to pursue
options could be roughly $3.5 million:

"The $3.5 million that's being discussed. To me, I don't think we should look at that as a cost. That's an investment…"

Councilman
Garcia's office followed with a mass emailing today (July 28) that said
"the city or regional partners would have to contribute the remaining
$3.5 million"…but didn't explicitly mention the Port. Councilman
Garcia's email also cited email recipients to a Press-Telegram story that didn't include Councilwoman Schipske's exchange on Pier J and Port mitigation.

Council response to the Moffatt/Nichol was generally positive…but public testimony was divided, at times nearly polarized.

The
Surfrider Foundation blasted the study for failing to cite data in
deciding not to consider complete removal of the Breakwater. A number
of Peninsula area residents, whose homes are protected by the
Breakwater, praised the study for its methodology.

Some speakers drew a distinction between improving water quality and restoring waves.

Mayor Bob Foster struck a diplomatic note. In an emailed statement, Mayor Foster said:

This study adds a tremendous amount of facts to the discussion – we
learned that wave height does not necessarily improve coastal water
pollution, especially knowing that most of the pollution travels down from
upstream in the LA River but we also see that some modifications to the
breakwater bring waves back to Long Beach without harming property.

There is no real silver bullet answer to our challenges but adding these facts is
a very important step going forward. I also want to thank the Long Beach
residents who pushed the City to study this issue.

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