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WORD ON THE PENINSULA

Published 7/23/2008 on the District Weekly 

Perspectives and opinions of residents who will be impacted by an Army Corps project are factored into the cost-benefit ratio, kind of like how “Recreation” is factored—in a really vague way. These concerns seep out in public forums hosted by the engineering firm. Moffatt & Nichol will host a similar forum in the coming months, although no date has been set yet.

Property on the Alamitos Peninsula—a region containing some of the most valuable residential real estate in Long Beach—will be physically affected by any coastal change. Where do residents stand on the breakwater reconfiguration issue? Well, not in any one place, really.

Rick Brizendine, chair of the Peninsula Improvement Committee and a director for the Peninsula Beach Preservation Group (PBPG), argues against reconfiguration, saying that it will not cure the pollution problem in Long Beach.

“My position is that the money is not being well spent,” he says. “We have to stop pollution at its source, which is the LA River, not the breakwater.”

Brizendine also says the PBPG has a few priorities: “To stop pollution, to preserve the beach for public use, to preserve the environment, and to protect property”—in that order.

In the PBPG’s 2008 survey, peninsula residents were asked if they support breakwater reconfiguration. Only 164 people responded to the survey, but 141 of them said no. This was the question they were asked: “There has been discussion of modifying or removing the breakwater. Such actions may leave homes on the peninsula unprotected from flooding. Do you support the PBPG’s position against modifying the breakwater?”

The question is little misleading, though. The peninsula has a long history of flooding, even with the breakwater in place. In fact, parts of the bay side of the peninsula are already below sea level and incredibly vulnerable to flooding—flooding that is usually caused by southern swell storm surges that enter through the gap between the breakwater and Alamitos Jetty.

Yes, reconfiguring the breakwater will let in more open-ocean energy, but the Army Corps—not wanting to endanger those coastal homes—would probably recommend storm damage reduction measures outlined in “Flood, Storm and Coastal Protection.”

Avalon Hill, a 24-year resident of the peninsula, thinks there is some middle ground for reconfiguration. “It will be a very divisive issue among residents,” she said. “But I think there’s a compromise between taking the whole thing down and putting up with the putrid water that we have here. I don’t swim on the ocean side. The ocean side is nasty, especially after storms.”

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