Image: Jenni Zell

I’ve begun to notice a sense of urgency and focus surrounding coastal resiliency planning in Southern California lately. Scientists at institutions like NOAA, USGS, Scripps, and many other organizations have been sifting through data, modeling, mapping and making projections. All the while interest in this type of research amongst the science community and public also seems to be increasing.

At AHBE Landscape Architects, we recently partnered with Cal Poly Pomona landscape architecture students, to work together focused upon the goal of resiliency strategies for the coast of Long Beach. I have also been attending a class at the Aquarium of the Pacific , a course with the pessimistic title, “Can We Make our Coastal Cities Resilient to Climate Change or Are They Doomed?” Research from scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSB, UCLA, and the National Academy of Sciences have resulted in a variety of proposals: complete coastal retreat (let nature do her inevitable thing), reduce our collective carbon footprint, and generate durable and dynamic sustainability planning efforts.

But there is not much in the way of ecosystem and infrastructure planning being presented at these classes. The sketch above is my late-night proposal for making coastal Long Beach more resilient to the hazards while living alongside an expanding and warming ocean.

  • Remove and reconfigure the existing LB breakwater to improve the health of the ecosystem, engineer brilliant surf breaks in Long Beach, and re-use the material in strategic locations for wave attenuation.
  • Restore an open channel connection between the Colorado Lagoon and Marine Stadium (Alamitos Bay) to improve the health of the ecosystem. Create new habitat areas and use the cut material to create new fill areas for the protective geotubes in action 3 below. (Note: AHBE Landscape Architects is currently in the schematic design stage of this project.)
  • Combine geotubes and dune planting to stabilize the shoreline, protect the peninsula, create more area for surfable waves, and use navigational dredge material to keep growing the area over time.
  • Build a moveable flood barrier at the mouth of the Los Angeles River so that under normal conditionals fresh and salt water can mix and fish and organisms can safely migrate in the brackish water. When really powerful storms arrive followed by high tides and surges, the barrier can be rolled up; their presence can keep the water out of homes, businesses, and civic institutions.
  • Institute a coastal hazard tax zone that transfers risk to property owners in the coastal zone, while encouraging adaptive measures for city planners and property owners. The tax will also sets up a rainy day fund emergency aid when really powerful storm combined with high tides rolls into town.


One Comment

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  1. Duane #
    March 28, 2017

    Take note the long standing economics of why the breakwater was first introduced;
    The day to day commercial tankers and cruise ships within the breakwater.
    Oil & Gas industry;
    The fixed Oil Platform Islands access and safety.


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