Southern California environment news and trends

Aquarium of the Pacific celebrates and ponders the fate of Southern California's urban coast

Aquarium of the Pacific

Aquarium of the Pacific

A few weeks back, Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific held an “urban coast” festival, celebrating the millions of people and thousands of species that share hundreds of square miles of ocean. Now the Aquarium is developing scenarios for what Southern California’s ocean and its coastline should look like within 40 years, and it’s looking for help.

That’s where the rest of us come in. Aquarium president Jerry Schubel says just about everyone has a stake in the coast's future. “We’ve got the two largest container ports in the nation. We have some of the best, busiest beaches [and] surfing. We have all of California’s offshore oil platforms, 17 of them, so it’s this wonderful combination of humans and marine life, living and acting and working and surviving in relative harmony,” Schubel says.


Environmentalists seek help from Angelenos to map the city's uncounted small waterways

City of Los Angeles - Aerial mapping

The LA river and its tributary, the Tujunga Wash (under the 405 freeway) are well-known parts of the LA River watershed. The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission is looking for some of the less well known ones.

Today on the radio, I report on a call issued by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission to all Angelenos. They want your creeks and streams: the idea is to improve the city’s protection of these small watweways.

Advocates for the river, for these small waterways, argue that most of L.A.'s little streams are either gone or controlled in pipes and concrete channels. They hope to use new information in planning a stream protection ordinance in the city.

Landscape architect Jessica Hall, a longtime advocate for "daylighting" streams in LA, says the small waterways that remain can be sources of confusion for builders and urban planners."I’ve seen this situation a few times where because the creeks are not mapped," she says, "building and safety officials aren’t aware of their presence and don’t know to take the steps that they need to take to protect the streams when a neighbor comes in and wants to McMansionize their property."


Song of the Week: "Deck Shoes," for the US's largest sewage no-discharge zone


Cowes Week is an enormous regatta on the Isle of Wight. A deck shoe boat is an enormous deck shoe.

Apologies for the absence last week of what is likely your favorite part of the week, Song of the Week. Family matters forced my overlords to unshackle me from the blogging desk. Been out of commission for several days.

However, on this shortened week, I returned in time to report that the EPA and California are finally on the same page, and cruise ships and cargo vessels no longer can drop even treated sewage in state waters.

As far as I'm concerned, David Foster Wallace wrote the only nonfiction essay about the cruise ship industry; "The Love Boat" is the only television show to get down on the gritty below-decks politics of what happens when Halston, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Geoffrey Beene all guest star with Colonel Henry Blake from M*A*S*H, stop being polite and start being real; and The Greyboy Allstars have written the only funky song about strolling around the Lido deck. Song of the Week is "Deck Shoes," for the EPA and the cruise ship industry.


America's Cup draws Sailors for the Sea to California & the San Francisco Bay for ocean conservation

Yachting's America's Cup is displayed up

Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

Yachting's America's Cup is displayed upon its arrival for a ceremony in San Diego, California on Febuary 21, 2010 to celebrate the team Oracle's victory in the 33rd America's Cup yacht race.

America's Cup World Series

Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Oracle Racing 5 - Coutts competes in the Fleet Racing Championships during the America's Cup World Series, San Diego Match Racing Championship Fleet Race on November 20, 2011 at San Diego Bay in San Diego, California.

The 161-year old race for the Auld Mug is on its way to San Francisco. The America's Cup itself isn't till next year, but plenty of events happen along the way to the final series. For all of them, for some time, environmentalists have been concerned about the impact a huge sailing race will have on the San Francisco Bay and the ocean waters around it.

Those double-hulled racing yachts are sailing under wind power, right? Sure, but the event's a huge tourist draw. That's going to bring in cruise ships and other spectator boats. And air pollution and water pollution their engines will bring, too.

And there's all the temporary development on shore. Most recently, environmentalists shut down plans for a giant floating TV screen in Aquatic Park (the Dolphin Swimming and Boating Club threatened to swim around that area in protests). The Sierra Club pointed to "concerns about water pollution impacts and other criticisms of the project's final environmental impact report, which the state requires before construction can begin." Now that's sorted out; the San Francisco Chronicle reports that San Francisco Supervisors addressed those concerns in the last several days. 


North Atwater Park is getting ready for its close-up

A sorta hidden gem of a park in north Atwater Village is getting a higher profile today…for the facelift it's been getting for a while. 

 City officials broke ground on a restoration project in late 2010. Joe Linton and the LA Creek Freak team have poked their heads over the fences and documented how the restoration project's going for the last year-plus. (They even wrote a poison pen letter to graffiti loving fools who spray painted on the wall along the river walk.) What's cool about the park is it's not just a park; it's an integral part of the Los Angeles River watershed. A tributary to the river will get to operate as nature intended if everyone sets this up right. 

Today Interior Secretary Salazar (and let's hope, his cowboy hat) are going to be in town to check on progress and talk about the general awesomeness of river redevelopment. The federal government got a hand in helping it last year, when something called the Urban Water Federal Partnership adopted seven local-water-areas (Lake Pontchartrain was another one in my old town).