Corps of Engineers L.A. Office Recommends Finding Fed'l Interest in Reconfiguring LB Breakwater; Its Recommendation Being Reviewed/Pending Final Approval By Others In Fed'l Agency; City Mgm't Plans To Offer Council June Options To Fund 50% Share Of Feasibility Study (City Cost=Est. $4 Million)
(May 24, 2010, 9:20 p.m. w/ updates) -- As first flashed on LBReport.com front page earlier tonight, the Corps of Engineers L.A. Office has recommended finding a federal interest in reconfiguring the LB breakwater...and that recommendation is being reviewed pending final approval by others within that federal agency.
LBReport.com provides extended on-demand audio below from Monday night's (May 24) Breakwater update public meeting, during which Monica Eichler (right in photo below), Project Manager for the L.A. office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated in the presence of 4th dist. Councilman Patrick O'Donnell and City Gov't Affairs Mgr. Tom Modica that the Corps' L.A. office is recommending finding a federal interest in reconfiguring the breakwater.
"At the District level, Colonel Magness has signed off on the document saying there is a federal interest." Ms. Eichler said. She said the Los Angeles District has completed its review...and to become final must now be approved by others within the fedearl government. The L.A. office has sent it to the Corps Division office in SF, where it will be reviewed and then coordinated with agency HQ in Washington, D.C. "It's between Division and Headquarters being reviewed," she said.
Monday night's event drew a sizable crowd (approx. 70 people) to a dining room at Ecco's Pizza in ELB. Among those visible (observing) was LB Harbor Commissioner Mario Cordero...who drew applause when introduced by Councilman O'Donnell. "His mere presence today is pretty much a message that the Port wants to look at this issue and ultimately partner with us to find a solution," Councilman O'Donnell told the crowd. (After-meeting audio comments from Commissioner Cordero, below.)
City management representative Tom Modica, Manager of Gov't Affairs, said management is in the process of preparing options for presentation to the City Council (currently expected in mid-June) to fund the City's 50% share (est. $4 million) of the cost of the Feasibility Study (further below, including audio of Q & A on this). The 50% cost share is required by the feds.
The breakwater has quashed waves in LB for over a half a century. Critics say it disrupts cleansing currents, contributes to poor beach water quality and harms beach tourism; Peninsula property owners note that the structure has protected their homes from potentially damaging storm surf for over half a century.
Regarding the Feasibility Study, Mr. Modica said:
The goals are, we need to make sure that we're protecting existing infrastructure. We get a lot of questions about 'well should the houses in the peninsula be there; should the oil islands be there; should the port be working in that environment.' And while those are good questions, we need to look at what is the condition today.
We can debate about whether or not those operations should be there, but the fact is they are there; this is the environment and we cannot do anything to degrade that existing infrastructure, those homes, all those operations. We can do things to change it, to be able to mitigate and it doesn't have to stay status quo the way it is, but if you do make changes to the breakwater or any other structural changes, you need to make sure that we're protecting the infrastructure, protecting the homes, protecting the operations that are currently there.
The goal is definitely to promote ecosystem restoration. The City has a huge interest in improving water quality and in also obviously to improve recreational activity. Some of the initial assessments that we did in our Reconnaissance Study showed that there is an economic benefit to bringing people back to the beaches...
Mr. Modica indicated that management plans to ask the Council, perhaps as early as mid-June, whether it will commit to fund a 50% share of a formal Feasibility Study for reconfiguration of the Breakwater. That would entail a city cost of approximately $4 million ...which Mr. Modica said could be comprised in part by in-kind services performed by various city departments. Mr. Modica added that management is in the process of preparing various options for Council consideration that he hopes can reduce the city's cash outlay for the Study.
LBReport.com asked Mr. Modica and Councilman O'Donnell a question that prompted responses on how the City's $4 million share of a Feasibility Study might be paid. To hear the Q & A exchange, click here.
To hear LB Harbor Commissioner Mario Cordero's comments following the meeting, click here.
The Feasibility Study could take roughly four years to complete (dependent on funding from Congress)...and after the Feasibility Study identifies feasible projects, and a project type is decided on, the City would then have to commit to pay 35% of the construction cost of the project (depending on the project, 35% of between $10 million (small opening in breakwater) to $390 million (large structural changes).
Click to launch audio (MP3) ("whoosh" sound indicated audio edit)