On Wednesday, the Commission approved an application by Los Angeles County to reconstruct a 380 ft. long x 11 ft. wide x 9 ft. high reinforced concrete storm drain box on the beach at Dockweiler State Beach seaward of Sandpiper Street. The staff recommendation included a number of permit conditions, notably requiring the County to develop an adaptation plan within 5 years to address the coastal resource and access impacts of the structure and limiting the permit duration to ten years. The permit will regrettably maintain a stormwater outfall on a beach in an area that is vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise and extend the lifetime of a critical infrastructure project located not just near the sea but also in the sea. However, staff’s conditions appropriately limit the permit duration. It is also noteworthy that this and other similar structures exist on Dockweiler Beach which is adjacent to low income communities while other more affluent communities enjoy stormdrain free beaches. Also concerning, is that the County delayed a follow up CDP for emergency repairs authorized under an emergency permit to this structure seven years ago. Given the lack of readily available alternatives and a construction plan that will minimize lateral access impacts, the staff recommendation offered a reasonable compromise.
Why You Should Care
As sea levels rise, this infrastructure will block a narrowing beach and accelerate the erosive forces that already narrow it. Dockweiler Beach is a beloved, highly used southern California beach. It is no surprise that it experiences the effects of industrial waste, sewage, and is the drainage site for parts of LAX and other major coastal districts. This kind of infrastructure should not be maintained on a public beach.
Negative Conservation Vote
Commissioners unanimously approved the staff recommendation with a limited permit duration and the requirement for the County to conduct an adaptation plan within five years. This represents significant progress towards improving coastal access and climate resiliency at Dockweiler beach.
Approval with conditions