Environment & Science

Long Beach finalizes breakwater study agreement

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, center, signs the breakwater agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, center, signs the breakwater agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Courtesy of Daniel Brezenoff
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, center, signs the breakwater agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday that launches the East San Pedro Bay Ecosystem Restoration Study, which will look at the impact of the federal breakwater on the city's coastline.
Courtesy of Daniel Brezenoff
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, center, signs the breakwater agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
File: The Long Beach breakwater is shown just in front of a container ship in the distance on Aug. 30, 2007. This breakwater, completed in 1949, reduced Long Beach's famed 10-foot-high waves into grayish-brown, listless ripples that crawl up the sand.
Dave Waters/AP


Long Beach's leaders signed an agreement on Wednesday with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to launch a three-year study on its coastal breakwater after a decade-long push.

The breakwater runs along a 2.2-mile stretch — the coast of Long Beach — and is meant to protect the city from waves. However, the breakwater can cause a buildup of pollution in the water, as well as cutting possibilities for recreation along the coast.

“Long Beach is probably the largest stretch of any coastline in the state of California that has been dramatically changed because of this breakwater,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. 

Garcia said that, historically, the breakwater was useful to the city when the Navy had a large presence on the city's coast. The L.A. Times reported that the breakwater was installed in 1949 to protect U.S. Navy fleets.

"While it served a great purpose then, it's also dramatically changed our coastline today, including water quality issues, including lost opportunity for recreation, and certainly has changed the whole formation of our beach and coastline," Garcia said.

Garcia said that the study will produce data that will tell what the city can and cannot do in terms of changing the composition of the breakwater to open new doors for development.

Garcia also said that funding for the study will come both from the city of Long beach and the Army Corps of Engineers. The agreement between the two organizations was formed in November 2015, and Wednesday it was finalized. 

“This is one of the single biggest issues on the minds of folks in Long Beach,” Garcia said. “I think people are just excited to get it started.”