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Bringing a mountain (of sand) to Malibu

A surfer enters the water at the iconic Malibu Surfrider Beach.
A surfer enters the water at the iconic Malibu Surfrider Beach.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

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Residents of Malibu’s Broad Beach, concerned about the severe erosion of the beach in front of their houses, have banded together to try to solve the problem.  They hope to bring sand from another coast location to replace the 200-foot-wide beach that has eroded to almost nothing.  

The $20 million dollar cost will be paid for by a parcel tax that the homeowners have elected to assess on themselves. Likely spots for dredging the necessary 600,000 cubic yards of sand are within the Santa Monica Bay, Ventura Harbor, and beaches at Trancas, Zuma and Dockweiler.. The project is currently under review by the California Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission, and open to public comment until December 21st.  

Several groups, including Heal the Bay and the Surfrider Foundation, have questioned the plan, saying the environmental ramifications haven’t been fully studied.  Concerns have been raised about the longevity and sustainability of a new dunes system in an area that will continue to be subject to storm activity.  

What lengths are Californians prepared to go to to save their beaches? Does salvaging one area come at a cost to others?  Is it environmentally feasible to restore parts of our coastline, or should we let nature take its course?


Ken Ehrlich, project counsel for the Broad Beach Geological Hazard Abatement District, the homeowners’ association formed to address the erosion of Broad Beach

Mark Rauscher
, Coastal Preservation Manager for the Surfrider Foundation