Southern California environment news and trends

Doing the math on sea level rise & coastal erosion in Malibu, Venice, and locally

The fun part of covering an economic study of sea rise’s coastal impacts is seeing what the math looks like without politics to distort it.

And sea walls at Zuma and Broad beach don’t math out, San Francisco State University economist Philip King and his fellow researchers say in the new study we reported on. “[A]n overwhelming majority of benefits are directly tied to protecting residential structures at the back of Broad Beach.” Those high-value homeowners were instrumental in getting a 4100 foot emergency seawall up at Broad Beach in 2010. King’s report says that if it’s maintained, “nearly all of the recreational and habitat benefits associated with this stretch of shoreline will be lost in the near future as water levels rise.”

Venice has its challenges, too. At that beach, they’ve already started nourishment projects: shoveling more sand into the maw that the sea leaves behind just doing what it do. King’s team says more shovelfuls would be good in the future (though they note potential ecological consequences). “Additional nourishment projects could help minimize recreational losses due to sea level rise; the placement of winter berms could also help reduce the impacts of flooding following large winter storms.”


Secret public art in Santa Monica meant to help... [UPDATED]

In Santa Monica, a homeowner and some graffiti artists have unveiled a huge mural that's supposed to call attention to an environmental problem. 

The homeowner is named Adam Carlin. The graffiti artists are Risk and Retna. It's beautiful. Retna is famous in certain circles for hieroglyphics. The colors cascade downward, orange and yellow, purple, green and blue. I'll even give you a hint. They represent the sky, pollution, and the sea. 

But you're to be forgiven if you have no idea what any of that means. And I guess that's the basis of my question about this project.

Carlin, Risk and Retna have made this installation called "Oceans at Risk" for Heal the Bay. If you go to the project's website, it's essentially a Facebook page, on which it proclaims the project "the biggest and most important residential art project ever." 


George Wolfe rocks the boat on the LA River

George Wolfe - as an activist, an avid kayaker, a participant in these public tours, and as the founder of LA River Expeditions - occupies a unique spot in the cohort of people who are influencing the LA River's fate. He's not a lawyer or a Corpsman or an elected official. His obligations are to himself and to his cause of helping more Angelenos access the river. 

It's worth checking out the documentary Rock the Boat, or, at the very least, the trailer for the film, for more of George's story:

There years ago, Wolfe set out to prove with a small group of people that the Los Angeles River is navigable. They did, which is something I was surprised to hear Carol Armstrong of the City of Los Angeles tout approvingly. Even though the EPA proved George Wolfe right, at the time, in 2008, police and helicopters circled overhead and showed disapproval for the boaters.


Pacific swells mean safety, preparedness matter for Labor Day beachgoers

Nature is more powerful than you are. Especially if you're going to a Southern California beach this weekend. Unusually high surf has sent hundreds of pounds of pot ashore and is already keeping beachgoers out of the water. One surfer has died. 

Playing hooky or not, please check posted signs at your favorite beach spot. Don't turn your back on the water. Swim with a friend, and stay close to lifeguard towers. Use any common sense you have. 

L.A. County's WatchTheWater website is well worth checking out before you head out. Since you might be stuck on shore, these resources are interesting for beaches, too:


Kayaking on the Los Angeles River: Can't get over it

Sometime soon on the radio you can hear me talking about kayaking on the LA River. KPCC has done LA River stories so many times - my friend, colleague and the former holder of this position, Ilsa Setziol, did a lush 5-part series back in the day - but as I'll explain we're a long way from this story being over.  

My trip was last Saturday at 10 AM; I took along a college friend with whom I kayak once a year. George Wolfe gave us paddlers our marching orders, alongside some Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority guys. It's not that long ago that he was leading a 3-day trip down the river illegally - trying to convince people like the Army Corps and the EPA that it was one.  

These pilot-project trips (into which I lucked, like everyone else, by clicking furiously at 7 AM that Tuesday) put in at Sepulveda Basin, under concrete, but in a soft-bottomed area of the river. We sign waivers, and wear helmets and life jackets. It's a condition of our presence, and I got the impression from our trip leaders that the Army Corps and federal authorities were incredibly concerned about this.