Artificial Reef for Broad Beach Explored | News

After years of hard work and setbacks—including delayed permits, a lawsuit, a sand source denial, millions of dollars spent and other troubles—not one bucket of sand has been added to starved Broad Beach, where residents have been working to replace the disappeared shoreline with sand for more than a half decade.

Back in 2012, homeowners banded together to create the Broad Beach Geologic Hazard Abatement District, a formal body able to make decisions about the future of the beach. In 2015, the California Coastal Commission approved a beach nourishment project but, so far, no sand.

“The GHAD still remains hopeful that they’re going to be able to nourish the beach this year,” GHAD attorney Ken Ehrlich said in an interview in early August 2017. “Technical folks, me and others, are full steam ahead; we want to put sand on the beach this year.”

The plan, which involves major “nourishments” (sand dumps of up to 300,000 cubic yards) every five years, is designed to continue in perpetuity, with at least the first 10 years already permitted. Because the sand will continue to wash away, the project is essentially designed to go on forever. 

Now, there’s a new push for an artificial reef that’s touted as a solution that would dramatically cut back on the amount of new sand that must be trucked in to keep Broad Beach living up to its name. Local land use planning and consultant company Schmitz & Associates, Inc., has been hired by a couple of Broad Beach homeowners to investigate the use of artificial reefs to retain sand along the posh shoreline.

Artificial reefs—in this case, hollow spheres called reef balls—are designed to “break the back” of waves, taking energy away before they reach the sandy shore and keeping sand from being sucked away.

“It will work,” Don Schmitz said when asked what the benefits of an artificial reef project are in comparison to the previously permitted project.

“The presently proposed beach nourishment project will simply wash away,” he continued. “If you incorporate an offshore reef, your can retain the sand of the beach nourishment project.”

The Broad Beach GHAD is made up of about 120 Broad Beach homeowners willing to put down millions of dollars in order to preserve their backyard beach. Already, the group has spent an estimated $12–14 million through the…

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