Making waves

Long Beach officials reveal redesign options for breakwater structure, seek ecosystem restoration.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Los Angeles representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other city officials revealed six breakwater redesign options Sept. 24 at Bluff Park during a media event.

The breakwater options presented during Monday’s event derived from the 2016 East San Pedro Bay Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study. Local and state officials used the study to identify the benefits of rehabilitating habitats near the breakwater, as well as to evaluate the impacts the proposed alternatives would have on the current breakwater to both offshore and nearshore resources.

“This study will now be moving into the environmental-review process,” Garcia said, “which is the next step for projects of this size and magnitude.”

The mayor highlighted all six options, three of which focused primarily on reconstructing the ecosystems that were once present in the region, Garcia said.

Kelp Restoration Alternative
This project is the least costly and meets the minimum requirements of the environmental review. It includes the restoration of three habitat types, including field grass, nearshore rocky reef and kelp reef in the open water along the breakwater.
This alternative design is considered the “base plan” for more complex options to be built upon.

Reef Restoration Alternative
This proposal would add two rocky reefs to the region and would provide habitat diversity, according to Garcia.

Scarce Habitat Restoration Alternative
This project plan is the third and largest of the ecosystem-restoration projects. It would build upon the previous two alternatives.
Spanning from Long Beach to San Pedro, this option will add a 24-acre sand island near the Long Beach Peninsula. The project will also add two new coastal wetlands, including a 10-acre wetland near the Los Angeles River and a 42-acre wetland just outside of the Port of Long Beach.
This option will also add a small oyster bed near the Alamitos Bay Jetty.

Garcia also pointed out two other options that would require reconfiguration of the breakwater.

Breakwater Western-Notching Alternative
This redesign option would incorporate all of the aforementioned ecosystem-restoration measures, and it would require officials to create two 1,000-foot notches into the western end of the breakwater structure.

In changing the breakwater’s structure, Garcia said this proposal would increase wave activity.

“Preliminary wave modeling shows that this alternative would result in increased swells and could impact the oil islands, Pier J, as well as the Carnival Cruise terminal,” he said.

To counter the anticipated impacts of the waves, officials will implement “protective structures” along the three aforementioned points of concern, according to Garcia.

Eastern Removal Alternative
This project would see the removal of one-third, or 24 acres, of the current breakwater structure. It is also the largest and most costly of the redesign options.
This fifth proposal includes the ecosystem measures highlighted in the Kelp Restoration Alternative project.
According to Garcia, waves caused by this breakwater reconfiguration would impact the oil islands, the Navy’s explosives anchorage and possibly Belmont Shore. Similar to the Breakwater Western-Notching Alternative proposal, protective obstacles would be built to mitigate the impact of waves on the structures.

No Build Alternative
Garcia said a scenario where no action is taken will also be considered.

As the review moves forward, Garcia said that the safety of nearby coastal structures and communities is the main level of concern. Ed De Mesa, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District planning division chief, said the six options are in early stages of development and that public input would drive the design concepts further.

According to the City website, the six draft alternatives that were announced during the event on Monday will be available for the public during a meeting on Oct. 10 at the Bixby Park Community Center at 5:30pm.

De Mesa said officials are anticipating the release of a full review of the designs in early 2019.