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Pier Mooring Project Moves Forward

{mosimage}Published on 5/10/2007 on Grunion Gazette

By Carla M. Collado, Staff Writer

In light of stricter mitigation measures, the city’s Planning Commission voted 2-1 last Thursday, May 3, to adopt a Revised Negative Declaration for a recreational boat-mooring project off of Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

The project would place 45 mooring buoys in the harbor — 10 east of the pier, 20 west of the pier and 15 on the lee side of Island White. Each buoy would hold up to two boats. Opponents concerned with boaters dumping waste into the water asked for a full environmental impact report to be conducted.

However, the commission voted in favor of the mooring project’s Negative Declaration (an environmental report prepared for a project the state determines won’t have a significant adverse effect on the environment), saying its revised measures should be sufficient enough to prevent boaters from polluting the water.

According to the plan, project operator Beach Ventures, Inc., will be on-site at least 100 hours a week enforcing mooring regulations. Boaters caught violating those regulations by dumping sewage or solid waste, or tampering or removing dye tablets used for testing, will be barred from using the mooring facilities for two years.

Anyone caught dumping waste also faces possible fines from the city ($250) and the state Department of Fish and Game (up to $25,000), according to Marine Bureau Manager Mark Sandoval.

Other aspects of the project aimed at easing environmental concerns include: at-boat pump-out services included in the mooring permit fee (and solid waste removal for an additional fee); weekly water quality testing of the mooring area; and a more environmentally friendly helix screw that attaches to the ocean floor without scouring.

Joe Geever, regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation, said the city needs to resolve existing water pollution problems in the area before starting a mooring program. Other opponents to the plan voiced concerns over the toxicity of boat paints and questioned cleanup procedures in the case that boaters dump waste.

Sandoval said he expected the plan to get the commission’s go-ahead.

“The reality is, the water quality is bad because we’re at the mouth of the L.A. River,” he said, “and the moorings or lack of moorings aren’t going to change that.”

Commissioner Nick Sramek voted against moving the project forward.

“I am very concerned about the beach along there, what’s going on along the beach,” Sramek said. “I think it needs a full EIR.”

Opponents of the plan have 10 days to appeal the decision to the City Council, which would then have a public hearing within 60 days.

If there is no appeal, the proposal heads to the state Coastal Commission for approval of a coastal permit, and the Marine Bureau can proceed with implementation.

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