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Split Council Approves Pier Mooring Project, Talks Breakwater

{mosimage}Published on 6/21.2007 on Grunion Gazette

By Carla M. Collado, Staff Writer

City Council members turned back complaints from environmentalist Tuesday night, voting 6-3 to allow mooring buoys near Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

The council denied an appeal by the Surfrider Foundation of Planning Commission approval for the recreational boat mooring plan. It would add 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 could handle two boats.

The project still must receive approval from the state Coastal Commission before it can be implemented. The city is the applicant, but plans to contract installation and operation out.

At its May 3 meeting, the Planning Commission voted 2-1 to adopt a revised negative declaration for the project, saying city staff’s revised measures were sufficient to prevent boaters from polluting the water — one of the main concerns expressed by opponents including the Surfrider Foundation.

“A mooring project is a great idea,” said Gordana Kajer, chair of Surfrider’s Long Beach chapter. “But not when the water is polluted. We have to clean it up first, before we attract people.”

Since the plan first headed to the Planning Commission in December, Surfrider has pleaded for a full EIR (Environmental Impact Report) to be conducted. Instead, the project proposal was revised to include tougher boater regulations.

Among the measures added were on-site enforcement of mooring regulations (100 hours a week) by project operator Beach Ventures, Inc. Boaters caught dumping sewage or solid waste, or tampering or removing dye tablets used for testing, would be banned from the mooring facilities for two years.

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

Fourth District Councilman Patrick O’Donnell said he wanted assurances the buoys wouldn’t stand in the way of efforts to study and reconfigure the breakwater. Sandoval said that could be added to he lease, and noted that several other buoy moorings operate in areas without breakwaters.

Eighth District Councilwoman Rae Gabelich said she wants more movement on the breakwater issue, and made a motion to postpone the mooring decision until a session to talk about the breakwater was conducted. It failed 6-3.

First District Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal said she was against the project until water quality had been addressed. Councilwomen Gerrie Schipske (Fifth District) and Tonia Reyes Uranga joined her in voting against the project; O’Donnell voted in favor.

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