Construction of the first phase of the Surfers' Point Managed Shoreline Retreat Project is now complete.

Updates are posted with photos at


Sunday, July 17, 2011 Surfers Point Opening Ceremony

Thursday, July 14, 2011 Surfers' Point - Phase 1 complete

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 Surfers Point Timeline

Friday, May 20, 2011 Surfers' Point Working Group Wins Award

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 Surfers Point - New Bike Path

Thursday, April 7, 2011 Line in the Sand

Friday, March 4, 2011 'Swept Away' - KCET television

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 Surfers Point - More Cobble and Sand

February 8, 2011 Beyond Sea Rise - VCReporter

January 18, 2011 LA Times Managed Retreat

November 29, 2010 Surfers' Point Cobble Berm

November 19, 2010 The Managed Retreat Process at Surfers' Point

October 21, 2010 Surfers Point Cleanup

Monday, October 11, 2010 Surfers' Point project begins



September 29, 2010

Short delay on Ventura beach project

A long-awaited project to replace a crumbling bike path along Ventura’s coast was set to begin Monday but remains on hold because contractors are ironing out paperwork, city and company officials said Wednesday.

About half of the existing damaged path and parking lot will be removed and the materials recycled in the initial phase, which will increase the size of the beach by about 60 feet and nourish it with added cobble and sand to prevent further erosion.



September 15, 2010

Final permits are in process, with construction now cleared to begin on September 27

July 21, 2010

Surfrider produced 'Restoring the Shore,' a short 10 minute video describing the Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project. Thanks to all those who helped piece it together, and special thanks to Rich Reid for his production. It is broadcasting on cable Channel 6 in Ventura, along with a short PSA.


May 17, 2010

The Surfers Point Working Group met to go over the status of the construction schedule and logistics. The project is on track for groundbreaking after labor day, 2010. The construction window is September 7, 2010 - May 27, 2011 to avoid the summer holiday season and the County Fair. A public access plan has been completed to assure continuous beach access during construction, as required by the Coastal Commission permit. The City will also be working on an Information Kiosk to make beachgoers aware of the pending project. Surfrider will help to provide outreach materials, and we are also working on a short video to help support the project. In the evening, Ventura City Council approved the contract for construction in a 'consent item' on the agenda.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION (PHASE ONE): * Remove approximately 1/2 of existing damaged parking lot closest to the Ventura River Estuary * Widen 900-feet long stretch of beach by approximately 60-feet * Bury 26,000 tons of small cobblestones along the beach to provide erosion protection and import 18,000 tons of new sand to cover the cobble * Shorten Shoreline Drive and construct new cul-ds-ss6 1,000-feet east of existing cul-de-sac * Relocate 1,200 -feet of multi-use/bike path and install path lighting * Construct new rainwater-permeable parking areas * Install a new storm water system including a grass bioswale along the bikepath and a stormwater filtration system to treat runoff before discharge to Ventura River Estuary / Ocean CONSTRUCTION COST (BlD AMOUNT): $ 1,693,000


March 8, 2010

City Council to approve the plans and specifications for the first phase of the Surfers Point Project and authorize the project for construction bids. We will be advertising for 4 weeks, then will open and evaluate the bids, then have the City Council award the construction contract sometime in late April, if all goes well. Actual construction still would not start until after Labor Day. We also need to secure our final coastal permit by meeting all of the special conditions, which we will be working on over the next several weeks.


February 22, 2010

The City Council approved the purchase of the cobble and sand ($600,000). The source will be the Corps of Engineers Santa Paula Creek project, in which sediment is being excavated from the streambed.


Feb 1, 2010

The working group met for an update on plans to break ground later this year. Funding is now available to construct the $3M first phase of the project that will relocate the bike path and parking lot near the rivermouth. Construction will begin after Labor Day 2010.

The city engineer has been able to secure a source for the 26,000 tons of cobble and 18,000 tons of sand that will be used to enhance and restore the beach. This huge mass of river rock from nearby Santa Paula Creek will be used to construct a 'cobble berm' on the back-beach, to be buried underneath reconstructed sand dunes.

October 2, 2009

The Federal Highway Administration today approved the use of the federal Transportation Enhancement (TE) grant for restoring the bike path and beach at Surfers' Point. This will allow the project to move forward, although groundbreaking will be delayed until early 2010.

A memo from the Federal Highway Administration stated:

'Based on the FHWA’s careful review of the project documents provided by both Caltrans and City of Ventura, and in response to the congressional inquiry by Congresswoman Lois Capps, attached is our agency decision letter with respect to the eligibility of the beach protection and erosion control components of the above-referenced Federal-aid highway project.

We request that Caltrans HQ and Caltrans District 7 facilitate the timely implementation of our decision, given the time sensitivity in the coastal permit conditions for the project. Thank you to both Caltrans and the City of Ventura for helping us respond to the Congressional Inquiry with a well-informed decision.'

Many thanks to Congresswoman Lois Capps, everyone who wrote letters, State Assemblyman Pedro Nava, and all the state and local staff and political representatives who weighed in on this!

August 5, 2008

The City of Ventura this week gave the go-ahead for the Surfers' Point Managed Shoreline Retreat project. The passage of the state budget allows the previously earmarked grant funding to be released in time to break ground this year. Construction of the first phase of the project should begin in November 2009.

More info here:

Ventura OKs plans to move bike path, replace water pipes
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 By Kevin Clerici

The Ventura City Council this week approved three major improvement projects, including the first phase of a multimillion-dollar plan to relocate a decaying bike path and restore the beach near Surfers Point and the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

...Coastal watchdogs, outdoor enthusiasts and community leaders have been working on a campaign to relocate and replace a crumbling bike path along Ventura’s coastline for 15 years.

Oct 16, 2008

Surfers' Point Working Group Meeting - Phasing Plan Discussed

to see the plan visit:

The working group met to discuss a proposed phasing plan for construction of the Surfers' Point project. The "Managed Shoreline Retreat Project" calls for relocation of the coastal bike path and parking lot and construction of a cobble berm to protect the shoreline. Sand dunes will be constructed and vegetated on top of the cobble.

According to the draft plan presented, this first phase of construction would remove the upper (western) portion of the damaged parking lot and construct the cobble berm, re-route the bike path and interim fairgrounds maintenance road, install stormwater clarifier, and maintain current parking and beach access. Sand dune restoration is not included in this plan, although several working group members felt it would be beneficial to try to complete this portion of the project.

If all goes well, construction would begin in the fall of 2009. The phasing plan is intended to use the $3 million currently on hand, before $1.5M in Federal funding expires. The phasing plan will be discussed by the fairgrounds staff and be subject to board approval, as agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and fairgrounds. (The MOU still requires ratification by the State Attorney General)

As this represents about 6 months of construction work, it would make sense to phase the project in this manner even if all the money was available - the conditions imposed with the Coastal Commission permit require construction after labor day and before memorial day to avoid the summer beach season and the Ventura County Fair.

More funding will be required to complete the project, including constructing the Low Impact Development (LID) parking lot. The City is pursuing other grant funding opportunities, and will be applying for another $1M state grant through the Prop84 River Parkway program. Letters of support for this grant should be coordinated through project manager Rick Raives


Monday, June 23, 2008

Surfers' Point - Funding 2008

see also:

listen to KCLU radio story "Innovative Plan Being Tried to Cope with Ventura County Beach Erosion":

On June 5th the California Coastal Conservancy dedicated $1.5 million to the Surfers' Point Managed Retreat Project. This makes for a total so far of $3,172,500 for project construction. Originally scheduled for construction beginning October 2008, the project is awaiting additional funding for construction to begin in the fall of 2009.

Coastal Conservancy $1,500,000
Fed SAFETEA-LU $1,500,000
City of Ventura $172,500
OPC (requested) $500,000
Other sources TBD $3,383,500
Total Project Cost $7,056,000

On June 20, 2008, the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation held a big event for International Surfing Day. The focus of the event was a beach cleanup at 'the Point' in recognition of the urgent need to raise over $3M for project construction. See recent story in the Ventura County Star, below. According to the article 'Some have suggested trying to find an angel donor or auctioning naming rights to help offset the gap.'


June 22, 2008

Beach bike path project obtains $1.5 million grant

By Kevin Clerici
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Coastal watchdogs, outdoor enthusiasts and community leaders finally won a round in their 15-year campaign to relocate and replace a crumbling bike path along Ventura's coastline.

A $1.5 million grant by the California Coastal Conservancy pumps new momentum behind a beach restoration effort that has been hailed as a model environmental approach to stabilize and restore 1,800 feet of beach near the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

Though blessed with vast support, the project still faces significant obstacles, and the city of Ventura doesn't intend to begin work until fall of 2009.

"We are not going to be doing any project this year," City Engineer Rick Raives said.

Initially projected to cost a few million dollars, construction and construction management costs have ballooned to $8.3 million because of rising materials costs and added public amenities.

Because previously awarded grant funds have to be spent by next year or possibly be forfeited, supporters are exploring a phased approach.

Meanwhile, engineering plans are nearly complete, and supporters continue to go after additional grant funding but face stiffening competition for fewer infrastructure dollars. Some have suggested trying to find an angel donor or auctioning naming rights to help offset the gap.

"We are getting there," Raives said. "We probably have little more than half the money we need for construction."

Often referred to as "managed retreat" or shoreline retreat, the project would relocate the crumbling bike and pedestrian trail on the seaward side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland near the fairgrounds. Once the path and an adjacent parking lot are relocated, 25,000 to 30,000 tons of cobblestone would be spread at water's edge, adding to the rocky shoreline. Sand then would be laid over the cobble to help restore the area to a more natural beach habitat and prevent future erosion.

The effort is a national model for environmental stewardship, said state Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who has written letters of support. The California Coastal Commission unanimously adopted a necessary construction permit in 2006, and the project has drawn great attention by coastal experts and enthusiasts eager to watch the project's effectiveness.

The Ventura County chapter of Surfrider Foundation has spent the past decade working toward a solution and still considers it one of its top priorities along with the removal of the Matilija Dam.

"There is agreement on all sides of this project," said John Wingate, chair of the local Surf-rider group, which held a beach cleanup and fundraising event Friday at Patagonia's Ventura headquarters that drew more than 500 people.

"We're not going to let up the pressure."

Under a recently formalized agreement, the city would maintain the restored beach, and the fairgrounds would provide routine maintenance to the bike path, parking lots, a new restroom and storm-drain system.

Ventura residents James and Denise Gray participated in Friday's cleanup. They grimace when they see the eroded path, metal debris in the sand and the bulky concrete barriers to keep people at a distance. Already a great surf spot, the stretch of beach "has a chance to be something really special," James Gray said.

Ventura City Councilman Brian Brennan, an early supporter, says the state Coastal Conservancy grant could attract others. Members of the Ocean Protection Council have toured the site and expressed interest.

Another positive sign, he said, is that Surfers Point has been designated by regulatory agencies as a dumping ground for sand and beach nourishment from upland excavations or debris basin clean-outs, which could reduce material costs for the project. Supporters also may be able to tap deep-pocketed mitigation funds for ocean conservation collected from offshore oil-drilling companies. "I'm encouraged," Brennan said.


May 21, 2008

The Final Design for the Surfers' Point Managed Retreat Project in Ventura, CA is almost complete, and construction could potentially begin in Fall 2008. Fundraising for construction is underway, but we are still looking at a $3.4 million shortfall. There may be opportunities to phase the project. Summary of the current status is below:

Coastal Conservancy (pending) $1,500,000
Fed SAFETEA-LU $1,500,000
City of Ventura $172,500
OPC (pending) $500,000
Other sources TBD $3,383,500
Total Project Cost $7,056,000

Coastal Conservancy June 5th meeting - funding request for $1.5M for Surfers Point project

Ventura City Council June 9th meeting - approval of the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Fair Board for the operations and maintenance of the project. According to city staff there were no concerns with the latest minor changes requested by the Fair Board. The MOU is in line with the deal points approved by the City Council in April 2007. City of Ventura will also be amending the project EIR and Coastal Development Permit to allow the City to begin bringing recycled asphalt from road work to the Fairground to begin covering up the dirt parking area as requested by the Fair Board in the MOU.

What can you do?

Send letters of support to the Coastal Conservancy by May 30th.
Address your letter to:
Douglas Bosco, Chairman
California State Coastal Conservancy
1330 Broadway, 13th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
and send an electronic copy to Kara Kemmler,

Attend city council meeting on June 9th to support the project

Send along any funding opportunities you may be aware of - at this point creative community support is essential

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ocean Protection Council watershed tour

On Thursday February 28, 2008, the California Ocean Protection Council toured the Ventura River Watershed. The tour began at the Ventura County Government Center where the Watershed Protection District gave a short presentation describing the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration project. The council members were then treated to a helicopter flight over the watershed, offering aerial views of the river and Matilija Dam. Vans transported other participants to the dam, where short presentations were given over a picnic lunch. Matilija Dam is slated for removal in 2013, and the project has been endorsed by the Ocean Protection Council and largely funded by the California Coastal Conservancy. The tour gave an opportunity for these policy makers to experience the dam and river for themselves.

The next stop was the beach at the mouth of the river, where Ventura City Councilman Brian Brennan gave an overview of the Surfers Point Managed Retreat project. The final design for this project is almost complete, and with funding construction could begin this year.

Finally, the group took a look at the Sanjon outfall at San Buenaventura State Beach. This site has been identified as an impairment to coastal water quality, a problem that we believe can be solved. Surfrider's proposal for wetlands and urban watershed restoration at this site was met with great interest, as it provides an integrated approach to stormwater management.

Tour participants were also invited to an after-hours reception at Jonathan's in downtown Ventura. We hope our guests learned the reasons we love this area, and why we are dedicated to protecting and restoring our coast and watershed.

see also:


December 10, 2007

On Friday, November 30, 2007, the Surfers' Point Working Group met to discuss the project status and schedule. Surfrider was represented by Larry Manson, Vince Kisch, and Paul Jenkin.

see also

The 70% Design is complete, with Final Design to be completed within 6 weeks (Feb 2008). An updated estimate now places total construction costs at $8.1M. Increases are result of general inflation in construction costs.

A significant portion of the cost is cobble to rebuild and protect the shoreline. A cobble source has been found from a County Flood Control project, but sorting and transportation is costly. A discussion identified approximately $1M in possible cost-cutting measures by leaving abandoned pipes in place, reducing landscaping costs, and limiting grass-pave to high use areas. General consensus was that these should be included in the final plans, although preference was to find full funding.

The coastal consultant is working on a beach management plan, including “trigger points” for future renourishment as required by the Coastal Commission. The final MOU with Fairgrounds and City needs ratification.

Funding is going to be the big hurdle for this project. The City of Ventura has a federal transportation grant of $1.5M for the bike path that needs to be used in the next 2 years. Other grant applications have not been successful. The Ocean Protection Council OPC will be meeting in Ventura on February 28, and this will provide an opportunity for field tour of Surfers’ Point as well as Matilija Dam.



Saturday, November 10, 2007

Growing the Beaches

On March 30, 2000, the Patagonia/Great Pacific Iron Works store in Ventura was packed with over 200 people for the debut of "Growing the Beaches". At the front of the room sat local political figures and government reps, behind them surfers, local residents, beachgoers, friends and family.

This is now vintage grass-roots... and online here

June 26, 2007

The Surfers Point Working Group met yesterday (June 25, 2007). Discussions were as follows:

1. City and Fairgrounds MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) "deal points" were approved by City Council on April 9th. The Fairgrounds has sent the draft agreement to the State Attorney General for approval, and the Fair Board will review and sign off on this at an upcoming meeting. These "deal points" are listed below.

2. Grant Applications: a $397k Recreational Trails grant was denied. Still waiting to hear on a larger $890k request for River Parkways grant. Other funding still needs to be identified.

3. Project Design Status:
minor changes: added a vehicle turnaround at end of new beach parking lot to enhance traffic circulation. deleted a driveway near Derby Club

Drainage Design - includes a grade break between the high use and "grasscrete" parking lots. Runoff will go into a bioswale from high use lot, then to clarifier and to estuary. Grasscrete will drain directly to clarifier. High use lot will be constructed of asphalt recycled from existing parking. Apparently there has been an issue with dust at similar lot at Ventura State Beach, and the consultant is recommending a polymer surface treatment that will be periodically re-applied.
Grasscrete is designed for 4 turnovers per day, hence for lower use events. Some discussion ensued over current regular uses such as "pit" area for car racing and durability of this design.

Restroom - 25ft x 40 ft building to include 6 stalls, outside "sand showers" and lockable interior shower. Locations included areas in the middle of the parking lot or near fairgrounds, but the group preferred a location closer to the entry kiosk, citing better control and accessibility.

Fencing and Gates: new beach parking lot (high use area) will be open to the beach, fenced along the interior perimeter with an 8 ft vinyl coated "micro-mesh" fence to deter climbing. A 6 foot fiberglass interior fence will separate the grasscrete lot from the fairgrounds, designed to look like the existing metal fences elsewhere.

Coastal Design - primary issues are finding sources of cobble and sand. The cobble berm is designed 1800 ft by 6ft to 8 ft thick and will require approx 16,000 cubic yards/60,000 tons of cobble. Contact has been made with flood control and other local agencies as well as commercial vendors. Flood Control has cobble following floods, but timing with project construction will be an issue (2005 floods have come and gone, and now we're in a drought). Lack of current funding makes opportunistic transport and storage difficult, but may be necessary to stockpile material prior to construction.

Schedule - Final design is due for completion this fall, with RFP for construction bids this winter. Construction may not occur during the summer months, so the main construction period will be between September 2008 to June 2009. That's next year folks!

Surfers Point Proposed MOU with Fairgrounds - “Deal Points”
Revised 3/07

1. The 31st DAA and the City support and commit to implement the Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project to accomplish the following:

a. To provide a permanent shoreline protection solution for Surfers Point at Seaside Park;
b. To retreat from the shoreline by relocating the damaged shorefront bike path and public parking lot further inland;
c. To stabilize and restore approximately 1,800 linear feet of beach, and;
d. To provide storm water quality improvements to Fairgrounds property to reduce harmful discharges to the beach.

2. The City guarantees that the proposed project will be constructed upon receipt of adequate grant funding or other funding.

3. The City will continue to seek State, Federal and/or grant funds for the project. The City agrees to commit all such funds exclusively to the project. The Fair Board will assist the City in this effort.

4. The 31st DAA must approve all aspects of the project and the construction schedule. It further agrees that construction of this project shall not impede operations of the 31st DAA, including all activities and events scheduled on the property without prior approval of the 31st DAA.

5. The City will add a public restroom to be constructed as part of the Project located in or near the “grass-pave” turf parking area which will be owned, maintained and controlled by the 31st DAA. The restroom will be schematically designed and utilities will be constructed with the initial phase of the project. The restroom will be constructed when adequate funding is obtained.

6. The City will add to the Project the resurfacing of the entire unpaved dirt parking lot located adjacent to the Project using an all weather surface such as recycled aggregate asphalt which will improve the quality of storm water runoff.

7. The City agrees to design and construct the Garden Street Railroad Crossing Upgrade (Preliminary Project No. 75041, page 9-98 in the 2007-12 CIP Plan) when the project receives funding.

8. The 31st DAA will continue to own the beach in front of the Fairgrounds proper, but the City will be responsible for beach nourishment (sand and cobble) as required by regulatory agencies.

9. The City agrees to provide assistance to the 31st DAA with securing access to the Caltrans maintenance yard on a temporary basis during Fair time and, if possible, on a permanent basis in the future.

10. City will be responsible for major repairs of the Project that are caused by coastal erosion, if and when needed.

11. The 31st DAA agrees to own and provide routine maintenance for the bike path and parking lots constructed with the Project including, but not limited to, trash pickup, irrigating and mowing “grass-pave” turf parking area and sweeping, as needed.

12. Beach debris cleanup on the 31st DAA’s property is their responsibility. If the City desires to clean debris on this beach, the 31st DAA will grant the City access for this purpose.

13. The 31st DAA will use beach-parking revenue for Fairgrounds General Fund operations and routine maintenance, including maintenance of the Project bike path and parking lots.

14. The City will require its construction contractor to include the 31st DAA as an additional insured on their policy. Both the City and 31st DAA will mutually indemnify each other for any cause of action arising out of implementing the Project.

15. This agreement may be terminated by either party prior to the City entering into a construction contract for the Project. The City and 31st DAA will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a term of 25 years to memorialize these “Deal Points”.

April 10, 2007

Ventura council approves more funds for bike path

San Luis Obispo-based RRM Design Group is scheduled to finish the engineering plans this year.

By staff reports
April 10, 2007

The Ventura City Council agreed Monday night to spend an additional $130,000 to complete designs for relocating part of a damaged coastal bike path and rebuilding the shore with cobble and sand.

The city would maintain the restored beach, under an informal agreement it also approved Monday.

The city wants to relocate the crumbling bike and pedestrian trail on the seaward side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland near the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

Once the bike path and an adjacent parking lot are relocated inland, 25,000 to 30,000 tons of cobblestone would be spread at water's edge, adding to the rocky shoreline. Sand then would be laid over the cobble.

Under the informal agreement, the fairgrounds would provide routine maintenance to the bike path, parking lots, a new restroom and storm-drain system. The city would be responsible for future beach nourishment and repairs stemming from erosion or high surf.

The agreement is expected to be finalized in coming weeks as part of a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Ventura County Fair Board that would last 25 years.

Several people spoke Monday in favor of the decade-long project to restore the 1,800-foot section of beach and re-create a natural habitat there.

The project has an estimated cost of $5.5 million, but that could grow higher due to rising material costs. The city has about $2 million for the project and has applied for federal and state grants to fill the gap.

San Luis Obispo-based RRM Design Group is scheduled to finish the engineering plans this year.


Ventura City Council considers $130,000 to restore beach area

By Kevin Clerici,
April 9, 2007

The Ventura City Council tonight will consider spending an additional $130,000 on engineering designs to relocate part of a crumbling coastal bike path and rebuild the shore with cobble and sand.

The council also will discuss an informal agreement with the Ventura County Fairgrounds on future operation and maintenance of the relocated path and restored beach.

The decadelong project ­ supported by outdoor enthusiasts, coastal watchdogs and Ventura city leaders ­ would relocate the eroding path near the fairgrounds and re-create a natural habitat there.

In November, the California Coastal Commission unanimously granted a critical coastal construction permit to move the damaged bike and pedestrian trail on the seaward side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland.

The project, which also would restore a 1,800-foot section of beach and install a new fairgrounds-controlled public restroom, has an estimated cost of $5.5 million, but that could grow higher due to rising material costs, reports show. The city has about $2 million for the project and has applied for federal and state grants to fill the gap.

The $130,000 now being requested by city staff would supplement an ongoing contract with San Luis Obispo-based RRM Design Group to finish engineering and construction plans.

About $103,000 of that could be covered by grant money, with the remaining $27,000 coming from the city's general fund, city officials said.

Once the bike path and an adjacent parking lot are relocated inland, 25,000 to 30,000 tons of cobblestone would be spread at the water's edge, adding to the rocky shoreline. Sand then would be laid over the cobble.

Under the informal agreement, the fairgrounds would provide routine maintenance to the bike path, parking lots, restroom and storm-drain system. The city would be responsible for future beach nourishment and repairs stemming from erosion or high surf, which could prove costly. The beach has been pre-approved as a site for rehabilitation as part of the South Central Coast Beach Enhancement Program. Proponents say the enhanced beach area would become a natural depository for sand migrating down the Ventura River if and when the Matilija Dam north of Ojai is removed.

If the council agrees to the "deal points" reached with fairgrounds officials, they could be finalized in coming weeks as part of a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Ventura County Fair Board that would last 25 years.

November 17, 2006

The Ventura Chapter was well represented by Larry Manson, Julie Niceswanger, and Paul Jenkin at the Coastal Commission meeting in Huntington Beach yesterday. We arrived early, and spent the day listening to discussions on all manners of coastal issues, from wetlands and "McMansions" to endangered species and "erubs."

Finally at around 7:30pm, our item came up. But since the meeting was running so late, commission staff skipped their presentation, instead giving a brief salute to those who had spent the past decade working towards a solution to the erosion problem at Surfers Point in Ventura. Although we did not have a chance to deliver our carefully prepared comments, Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the Coastal Commission commended the project, calling it an excellent example of progressive coastal management.

The commission's approval of the coastal development permit clears the way for completion of the final design, and applications for grant funding to construct the project. This marks a major milestone in the Ventura Chapter's 15 year effort to solve the erosion problems at Surfers Point.

Many thanks to the City of Ventura and all who have contributed their time and support to this effort over the years. This was a great day for Ventura!

Coastal Commission approves bike path plan

By Star staff
November 17, 2006

The California Coastal Commission has unanimously supported a project to relocate a crumbling bike path from Ventura's coastline and rebuild the shore with cobble and sand.

A coastal construction permit was needed to move the damaged bike and pedestrian trail on the seaward side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland.

The commission's approval late Thursday pumps new momentum into a decade-long effort by outdoor enthusiasts, coastal watchdogs and Ventura city leaders to relocate the eroding path near the county fairgrounds and recreate a natural habitat rather than erect a sea wall.

"This is a huge milestone," said Paul Jenkin, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation's Ventura County chapter. He waited nearly 12 hours Thursday at the commission meeting in Huntington Beach. "The hope is now that this is approved, we can move full speed ahead to get it completed."

Once the bike path and an adjacent parking lot are relocated inland, 25,000 to 30,000 tons of cobblestones will be spread at the water's edge, nourishing the rocky shoreline. Sand then will be laid over the cobble.

The project cost is estimated at $4 million. The city has about $2 million for the project and has applied for federal and state grants to fill the gap. A construction timetable remains uncertain.,1375,VCS_121_5151585,00.html

October 25, 2006

On Tuesday, October 24, the Fair Board unanimously endorsed the Surfers Point restoration project. Thanks to all who have supported the project, especially City of Ventura representatives who worked to educate the Fairgrounds board and staff about the intentions of the project.

This is a major milestone that allows the project to now move full speed ahead. There were several project conditions that were approved by the Board in association with their project approval, that the City is currently evaluating. Much of this will be discussed and included in a follow-up Memorandum of Understanding between the Fair Board and the City.

The next step is for the Coastal Commission to grant a permit for the project. This CC hearing date is now set for Thursday, November 16th, at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach (21500 Pacific Coast Highway). The CC agenda is posted on their website,

Surfers Point bike path to be relocated

Shore will be rebuilt with cobble and sand instead of a sand wall

By Kevin Clerici,
October 25, 2006 URL:,1375,VCS_251_5091934,00.html

The Ventura County Fair Board on Tuesday overwhelmingly embraced a landmark project to relocate a crumbling bike path from Ventura's coastline and rebuild the shore with cobble and sand.

The board's unanimous decision gives new momentum to a decade-long effort by outdoor enthusiasts, coastal watchdogs and city leaders to relocate the eroding path and re-create a natural habitat rather than erect a sand wall.

The project, estimated at $4 million, now goes to the California Coastal Commission, which is expected to consider and approve a coastal construction permit as early as next month. A coastal permit is needed to move the damaged bike and pedestrian trail on the seaward side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland.

The board's approval of the concept Tuesday ­ and pledge to work with city leaders to iron out specifics of a maintenance and use contract ­ received raucous applause and a round of glad-handing and congratulatory hugs.

"This property is of great value to many people," Board Chairman Craig Underwood told a gathering of about 20 people at the Derby Club. "I'm hopeful we are making the best decision for the community and for the fair board."

The celebratory mood was a far cry from a month ago, when proponents tired of waiting for action lashed out at fair board members when it became clear the group intended to postpone a decision until its October meeting.

At the time, some feared the board's inaction put the project in jeopardy.

Fairgrounds CEO Barbara Boester-Quaid defended the continuance Tuesday, saying the time was used to pore over the project's complicated arrangement, its impact on the annual fair and ensure each board member was up to speed.

To temper fair officials' concerns over having adequate space at the 62-acre fairgrounds, the city agreed to pursue increased access to a nearby Caltrans storage yard during fair time. The city also is looking at expanding an entrance on Garden Street.

"We are very protective of our event," Boester-Quaid told the audience, regarding the annual 12-day fair that is the fairground's greatest source of income.

After the vote, newly appointed board member Michael Bradbury was quick to thank city staffers and proponents for their patience and hard work. He said the vote signaled a fresh start.

"I look forward to going into the future as partners," Bradbury said.

A decade in the making, the effort to relocate the crumbling path and nourish the beach has gained positive attention from coastal engineers, state leaders, environmentalists and beachgoers because it would offer greater beach space and public access rather than encroach on the valuable shoreline.

It also would replace the existing trail, which continues to disintegrate and has been an eyesore on the widely used Ventura waterfront.

"This is a model approach," said Joe Geever, Southern California regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation. "Too often, governmental agencies respond with a Band-Aid approach" that doesn't have the same long-lasting coastal rehabilitation benefits, he said.

Once the bike path and an adjacent parking lot are relocated inland, 25,000 to 30,000 tons of cobblestones would be spread at the water's edge, nourishing the rocky shoreline. Sand would be laid over the cobble.

Proponents say the enhanced beach area would become a natural depository for sand migrating from the Ventura River when the Matilija Dam north of Ojai is removed.

Last month, the city applied for $1.7 million in federal and state grants to go with about $2 million in hand.

The project's innovative nature could help attract other sources of money or help leverage existing funds, said Kara Kemmler, a project manager for the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Lawrence Manson of Ventura told the board it was making the right move. He was excited about the vision of a beautified beach he could visit with his grandchildren. The plan calls for benches and a restroom.

Added Ventura resident Andy Prokopaw: "If you approve this project, you will have the eternal gratitude of tens of thousands of users of the bike path, like me."

September 27, 2006

Delay of Surfers Point work criticized

Lack of action by Fair Board angers proponents of beach's trail repairs

By Kevin Clerici,,1375,VCS_251_5023920,00.html

A chorus of city and business leaders, surfers and other proponents of a decade-long effort to rebuild and relocate a crumbling trail on Ventura County Fairgrounds property lashed out at Fair Board members Tuesday when the board postponed its decision on the project.

Despite repeated pleas for support of the project, the Fair Board voted unanimously Tuesday to postpone a decision until its October meeting.

The board's staff offered little explanation for the delay, saying only that more time was needed to better understand how the project, now estimated at $4 million, would impact the fairgrounds.

As a result, an October request for a critical construction permit from the California Coastal Commission must be withdrawn and requested later, possibly as early as November or early next year. A coastal permit is needed to move the trail on the seaward side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland.

Meanwhile, the pedestrian and bike trail continues to disintegrate, leaving behind an unsightly hazard on the widely used Ventura waterfront.

Angered proponents said Tuesday's decision puts the project in jeopardy.

Some 20 people came to the meeting at the Derby Club expecting to applaud the board. Instead, many left stunned that the Fair Board and its staff were not prepared to address the matter.

"I can't believe my (expletive) ears," said proponent Mark Halvorsen of Ojai, who left work to be at the meeting. "Saying they need more time is an excuse. They had an obligation today to move this hugely important project forward."

Ventura City Councilman Brian Brennan said more than $1 million already has been spent on planning and studies. The precedent-setting project to retreat from the ocean, instead of building an enormous wall, will have far-reaching benefits.

"This is not about putting a Band-Aid on Surfers Point," Brennan argued to the board. "This is about rehabilitating the ecosystem. This is about rebuilding one of the most important beachfront properties in our city. And we haven't asked you guys for one penny."

Others who testified in support included leaders of the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation; Zoe Taylor, executive director of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce; members of the Green Building Council of Ventura County, and the Ventura County Environmental Coalition.

No one spoke in opposition.

A decade in the making, the plan, often referred to as "managed retreat," has gained positive attention from coastal engineers, state leaders, environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts because it would create more beach space rather than encroach on the valuable soil.

The city extended the Promenade and bike path to Surfers Point in 1989. It also added a parking lot and lengthened Shoreline Drive around the fairgrounds. But severe winter storms and high surf followed, and, within two years, portions of the bike path and parking lot had fallen into the ocean. Concrete barriers now block about 100 yards of the eroded trail.

Once the bike path and parking lot are relocated inland, 25,000 to 35,000 tons of cobblestones would be spread at the water's edge, nourishing the rocky shoreline and preventing further erosion.

The city Monday applied for $1.7 million in federal and state grants to go with some $2 million in hand.

Ventura resident Phil Naumoff said the deteriorating path is an eyesore and has been a near constant cause of concern and complaints for a dozen years. He said he didn't understand why a forward-thinking fix with such widespread support was being held up.

"It looks like we really don't care," he told the board. "Everyone is fed up with it and are ready to move forward."

After about 50 minutes of testimony, Fair Board member Ginger Gherardi tried to appease speakers, making a motion to support the project in "concept" so that it could still make its scheduled October appearance before the Coastal Commission. She believed that any minor issues could be resolved between staff and the city.

Her motion, however, died because no one seconded it.

Fairgrounds officials downplayed Tuesday's catcalls, saying the sides are closer than the spirited debate indicated.

"I think it was a positive meeting," fairgrounds CEO Barbara Boester-Quaid said. "I can understand the passion these people have for the project. It's the same level of passion we have to do what is most responsible for the fairgrounds."

The biggest hurdle remaining appears to stem from fair officials' concerns over having adequate space at the 62-acre fairgrounds to handle the crush of semis, campers and trucks during the annual County Fair. Officials contend that they don't have the space to simply move these vehicles, which transport the carnival equipment and house people who work at the fair. Proponents contend that some could be parked off-site.

Boester-Quaid said she was optimistic that the fairgrounds and city could work things out by next month's meeting.

Board member Jan Berk said the board's top responsibility is "to do what is best for the fair." She said the right balance of everyone's concerns could still be found.

"We are not trying to stall," she said. "We are trying to do the right thing."

August 8, 2006 - Surfers Point Update

It has now been 20 years that the Surfrider Foundation has been involved in the protection and restoration of the shoreline at Surfers Point in Ventura. This year has seen continued but slow progress on the proposed Surfers Point restoration project.

The Ventura County Fair Board met on March 27th and decided that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was needed that will spell out the ownership, operations and management of the project. All Fair Board members and City Council members involved in this Ad Hoc committee support the project in its current layout.

Thanks to all who showed up for the March meeting at the Fairgrounds. Your presence and comments made a difference, and as a result the committee supported adding a public restroom with exterior showers in the proposed new parking area.

However, over the summer the Fair Board hired a consultant to analyze the impacts of the project. The main impact would be the loss of 4 H camping in the beach parking area at Fair time and some loss of horse trailer parking. The Surfers Point project proposes to remove these areas and replace them with buried cobble covered with sand/dunes, which does not work for camping or trailer storage. The Fair Operations Committee asked the consultant to present his report to the full Fair Board at their September meeting. It is possible that the Fair Board may ask that the Project be revised slightly or modified in other ways to help address the Fair Time Impacts.

The Fair Board needs to hear from the beach community to keep this project on track.

Ventura County Fairgrounds Board Meeting
Derby Club / Director's Room
Tuesday, Sept 26, 2006 at 9:00 a.m.

Surfers Point project moves forward

$5 million plan to relocate trail raises questions

By Kevin Clerici,
April 9, 2006

A $5 million effort to relocate a crumbling trail at the edge of Ventura's Surfers Point is inching forward.

Ventura city officials recently met with leaders of the Ventura County Fair Board and state parks to begin ironing out a final ownership and maintenance agreement.

The California Coastal Commission is expected to approve a construction permit this summer, granting the go-ahead to move a bike path and parking lot on the seaward side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland.

"This is a complex, precedent-setting project, but we're getting there," said Rick Raives, Ventura's city engineer and project manager.

Battered by the surf and assaulted by winter storms, the path has partially disintegrated, leaving behind an unsightly hazard on an otherwise intact, widely used trail along Ventura's waterfront.

A decade in the making, the plan has gained positive attention from elected leaders to environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts because it would create more beach space rather than encroach on the valuable soil.

But inactivity and the slow, but continuous, crumbling of the path have been near constant causes of complaints. Concrete barriers now block portions of the path.

Once the path and parking lot are relocated, about 25,000 to 35,000 tons of cobblestones will be spread at water's edge and covered with sand, replenishing the rocky shoreline and preventing further erosion, Raives said.

Among the unresolved issues among the city, the fair board and the state:

- Who will be responsible to maintain the new beach area and provide future replenishment?

- How will parking revenues generated at the new lot be shared, and should some be used for beach maintenance?

- How will a public restroom be added?

- Where will the $3.5 million still needed to pay for the project come from?

"This could turn into a year-round destination with the right care and amenities," said Michael Bradbury of the fair board, which controls much of the land in the area.

At the top of the fair board's desires is the authority to take emergency measures, like dumping rock, to protect the proposed improvements in the event of a natural disaster or a big storm.

"We have nothing in writing, and we need to get that," Bradbury said.

The dumping of rock, however, should not be necessary if the expanded beach area is well nourished, said Paul Jenkin, environmental director of the Ventura County chapter of Surfrider Foundation.

"It's designed to eliminate erosion problems in the future," he said. "The cobble and sand would be the protection to defend the public infrastructure."

In the long term, the obsolete Matilija Dam north of Ojai could be demolished as soon as 2012. That would restore a major flow of fine sand into the Ventura River that would fortify the shore where the river meets the ocean at Surfers Point, he said.

Ventura Councilman Brian Brennan has been involved in the issue since the beginning. An outspoken member of the surfing community, Brennan said the decision to retreat from the ocean, instead of building an enormous wall, will have far-reaching benefits.

He would like to see some parking revenues committed to beach maintenance.

The damaged bike path is owned by California State Parks. Granting ownership to a different agency is a possibility, said Richard Rojas, district superintendent for California State Parks' Channel Coast District.

Working drawings for the project have been completed, and all parties hope to have an agreement secured within a few months.

The city's Raives is optimistic that much of the remaining cost could be financed through a variety of sources, including state and federal grants.

"When it's done, the change is going to be fairly radical, and it's going to be a tremendous facelift for Ventura's beachfront," Jenkin said.

"It's taken a long time, but the prospects look good this project will come to pass."

March 18, 2006 Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project Update

Public Meeting Announcement

Where: Ventura County Fairgrounds/Seaside Park Derby Club Director's room
When: Monday, March 27th. 4:15 pm

At the request of the Fair Board, a meeting has been scheduled between appointed Fair Board members (Craig Underwood, Michael Bradbury, and Ginger Gherardi), and City Council representatives (Brian Brennan, Christy Weir, Ed Summers) to discuss the Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project.

Despite several formal Fair Board approvals over the years, including the development of a new Fairgrounds Master Plan, newly appointed Fair Board members have now expressed concerns regarding losing the public street (Shoreline Dr.) that separates the beach from the Fairgrounds. There is the perception that the State Coastal Act allows protection of a public street without needing a coastal permit if waves ever eroded up to a public street, but an emergency permit would be required to protect the area if it was a parking lot or any other improvement. The meeting will discuss ways to afford a "level of comfort" to the new Fair Board without making changes to the current design, as well as other issues related to the project.

Public comment will be taken after discussion by the Joint Ad Hoc Committee.

Project History and Status:
The Surfers Point Managed Retreat project evolved from years of discussion relating to solving the erosion of the public bike path and parking lot at Surfers Point. In 1999, following 7 years of negotiation between the City and other State agencies, the Fair Board provided written endorsement of the Managed Retreat concept. Then on January 21, 2003 the Fair Board voted to honor the prior board's commitment to Managed Retreat, and endorsed the EIR's "Preferred Alternative."

On December 3, 2003, the Surfers Point Working Group met to discuss how the beach at Surfers Point fits into the new Fairgrounds Master Plan, and the group reached a unanimous consensus. Based upon this approval, the final design process began.

On January 17, 2006, the Coastal Development Permit was approved by the City of Ventura Planning Commission. The project will be reviewed for approval by the Coastal Commission at their July or August 2006 meeting in Los Angeles.

In March, 2005, the Ventura City Council earmarked $1 million in transportation funding for the reconstruction of the Surfer's Point bike path that was damaged in 1991 by beach erosion. These federal grants will provide money for the bike path portion of the beach restoration project.

The city has applied for a $850,000 grant for the Surfers Point Project under the Prop 50, State Rivers Parkway Grant Program. There may also be opportunities with other Prop 50 grants related to Non-Point Source Discharge and/or Prop 40 Clean Beaches for the water quality improvements proposed with the new parking lot and storm drain system.

The final design will be completed this year, with a projected total construction cost of $3.8 million. The current schedule calls for construction to be completed by the summer of 2008.

More Info:
To see the proposed redesign of Surfers Point, and the background and history of this project please see below...

March 29, 2005
City of Ventura Earmarks Funds for Surfer’s Point Project
On Monday night, the Ventura City Council earmarked $1 million in transportation funding for the reconstruction of the Surfer’s Point bike path that was damaged in 1991 by beach erosion.  Federal grants will provide money for the bike path portion of the “Managed Retreat” beach restoration project.  The final design will be completed this year, and the total construction cost is estimated to be $3.8 million.  The city is actively seeking grant money for the remaining construction costs, most likely through parks and clean water funding sources.
The majority of the over $500,000 design costs for the city-led Surfer’s Point project came through the federal Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).  Since 1991, the city of Ventura has received $15,445,327 in Federal Transportation Act Funding.  This money comes from local share of the gas tax, and may be used for a range of local projects designed to improve the efficiency and safety of regional transportation alleviate congestion, and improve air quality.  The city of Ventura has applied this money to many projects over the past decade, including the construction of bike paths as alternative transportation corridors to alleviate congestion and air pollution.  The most prominent of these was the Ventura River Trail, which received over $2 million and was completed in the late 1990’s. 

March 15, 2005
Final Design Started for Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project

On Tuesday March 1, the Surfers Point Working Group met to review the latest design progress.  The consultants presented a design that includes a revised setback based upon a wave runup analysis.  The runup analysis used a 50-year wave under worst case conditions (i.e. high tide plus storm surge plus sea level rise) for the proposed beach restoration with the cobble and sand dunes.  This analysis moved the bike path back a few feet in the area nearest  the rivermouth. 
The design for the relocated parking lot has been refined to include 148 standard paved spaces and 171 "GrassPave/turf" spaces for reduced frequency use.  This is intended to enhance the "park-like" makeover for the fairgrounds, which should be an improvement over the current asphalt and dirt parking lots.  The new parking lot will be "Pay Parking" just as it is currently.
Also, since Shoreline Drive will be modified and partially removed, the design includes a turn around before entering the pay lot and 25 "surf check" parking spaces along the road.  This will allow continued "drive-by" surf check, as well as a new 20 minute short-term free parking area.
The process is moving forward, albeit very slowly, but the city engineer expects the final design to be completed in Fall 2005.  The progress in 2004 was delayed for several months while waiting for core samples from the current parking lot area.  Several "test pits" were dug to determine the consistency and distribution of soil and potential contaminants below the parking lot.  Except for the area closest to the rivermouth, toxic materials were not found.  In this area there were traces of possible petroleum waste and debris, all of which would be cleaned up as part of the project.
The graphic below illustrates the latest design, showing the streets and parking locations, as well as the beach restoration "retreat zone".

Dec 4, 2003

Surfers Point Managed Retreat project to be modified for Fairgrounds Master Plan

On Tuesday December 2, 2003, the Ventura County Chapter received a presentation from Nick Deitch, consultant for the Ventura County Fairgrounds.  Nick showed the group the latest conceptual diagram in the Fairgrounds Master Planning Process. 

From the presentation, it is evident that the current Fair Board has made a commitment to enhancing the fairgrounds property, and they intend to re-create a “Seaside Park.”  The schematic shows the beach restoration area where the Managed Retreat project has been planned.  It also shows Shoreline Drive removed, and a park/parking lot in the area currently across the street from the beach.  In the Master Plan, other aspects of the Fairgrounds property will receive a facelift, including all of the outdated and dilapidated buildings.  The potential for multistory parking to replace the “sea of asphalt” is also being considered.  Perhaps one day the chain link fences will be removed to make way for a park environment that all can enjoy.

On December 3, 2003, the Surfers Point Working Group met to discuss these changes in the Fairgrounds planning.  For the first time in almost ten years the group reached a unanimous consensus.  It was agreed that the Surfers Point Managed Retreat EIR will be revised to reflect the changes in Shoreline Drive and the parking areas.  This is expected to happen late spring 2004.  Meanwhile the Fairgrounds is seeking funding to complete their Master Plan EIR.  Once these documents are complete, the search for grant funding may begin for construction of the Managed Retreat Project.

The Surfrider Foundation is pleased that full consensus has finally been reached for this important coastal restoration project.  Surfrider also recognizes the efforts of the Fairgrounds and the City of Ventura in planning for the most popular recreation and surfing beach in Ventura County.  We look forward to working toward the implementation of this precedent setting project to benefit current and future generations of California beachgoers.

Below is the latest Fairgrounds Master Plan schematic:


July 22, 2003

Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project moves forward
Grass-roots campaign marks major milestone - Surfrider Foundation acknowledged for tenacity and professionalism

Last night the Ventura City Council voted unanimously to certify the EIR and hire a consultant for the final design of the "Surfers Point Managed Shoreline Retreat" project.  Mayor Di Guilio acknowledged that this project continues to move forward due to the tenacity and technical savvy of the Surfrider Foundation volunteers who have been a part of the process for more than a decade.

Surfrider Foundation public comments delivered to Council last night are below.   These comments outline Surfrider's concerns for the public record, and Council acknowledged and discussed these issues before voting to support the project.  Four Surfrider members testified in favor of the project, as well as a member of the local Green Party and a local citizen.  The Surfrider Foundation continues to be a leader in this effort.

Surfrider Foundation Position on Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project

Presented to Ventura City Council on July 21, 2003
First some history: the Surfrider Foundation has been involved in Surfers Point since 1986.  We opposed the planned location of the parking lot from the beginning.  After the bike path was damaged in 1992, we opposed the plans for a seawall and advocated for relocating the bike path away from the beach out of harms way.  We have participated in the Surfers Point Working Groupsince its formation in 1995, providing constructive comments and design concepts that ultimately led to the Preferred Alternativein the EIR. 

Members of this current City Council should be aware that in 1989 the citys Local Coastal Plan required a 250-foot setback from the shoreline at Surfers Point.   However, this Plan was amended to allow for the construction of the parking lot with a minimal setback, even though it was only given a lifespan of 5 to 15 years.  Looking back now, fourteen years later, it is unfortunate that prudent planning and recognition of the threat of erosion and flooding in this hazard-prone area were overruled, because more money has now been spent planning how to fix the problem than it cost to build the parking lot in the first place. 

 In most simple terms, the plan of action that Surfrider has proposed throughout this process has been to clean up the mess and allow the beach to function naturally. This vision for the restoration of Surfers Point would include:

1)      removing the parking lot and all the fill material below the asphalt

2)      filling this excavated area with sand and cobble

3)      reconstructing dunes in the backshore area

 The Preferred Alternative in the EIR evolved from this vision, and gained the consensus of the Working Group.  To the extent that the Preferred Alternative achieves these goals, Surfrider would like to express our strong support for this concept for the Managed Shoreline Retreat Project.  We do have concerns with some of the details, but have confidence that the consultant selected for the next phase of the project is capable of creating a final design that we can all be proud of. 

The Surfrider Foundation position on the Managed Retreat project is:

 1)      The erosion problemwill be solved by relocating the poorly planned bike path and parking lot.  Moving back and reestablishing a prudent setback through Managed Retreatwill significantly reduce the likelihood of future erosion damage.

2)      All artificial fill material and debris under the backshore area currently occupied by the parking lot should be removed and replaced with beach quality sand and cobble.

3)      Artificial beach nourishment should be used only as part of the Managed Retreat Project, and not as stand-alone shore protection.

4)      We do not support:

           i.      Placing cobble and boulders in the surf zone or on the recreational beach.

          ii.      Excavation within the intertidal zone below the Low Tide line (MLLW).

          iii.      Excavation of the existing beach and remnant dunes.

           iv.      Reconstructing the former bike path as proposed in the No Retreat Alternative(Alternative 4 in the EIR).

With regards to Alternative 4, the No RetreatAlternative, we have significant concerns with the accuracy of disclosures in the EIR.  The impacts associated with reconstructing the parking lot and dumping tons of rock to protect it are obvious to those of us who have witnessed the forces of nature at Surfers Point over the past decade.  Cobble will not hold back the ocean, and future damage is inevitable unless the bike path and parking lot are relocated.  This is not just good planning, it is basic common sense.

Furthermore, the No Retreat Alternative has been highly controversial among the Working Group member agencies, and at one point had been removed from the document entirely because it did not fulfill any of the project objectives.  We recognize that the current City Council and Fair Board support the Managed Retreatproject, but having endured several administration changes in all of the involved agencies over the past decade, we have significant concerns that at some point the No RetreatAlternative may be implemented, either within the project area or in adjacent areas, based upon the language contained in this EIR.

For these reasons, we strongly recommend that the No Retreat Alternative 4 should be rejected as a course of action for the Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project.
In summary, the Surfrider Foundation;

1)      Urges the rejection of Alternative 4 as a course of action

2)      Supports the approval of the EIR with the exception of Alternative 4

3)      Supports the concept of the Preferred Alternative #5

4)      Supports the selection of the consultant for the final design

Upon completion, this project will be an example of progressive new shoreline management strategies encouraged by the State of California and the public.  We appreciate the City taking the lead on this project, and we look forward to continuing to be a part of the process as we move forward into the final design.



A Paul Jenkin, M.S.
Environmental Director
Surfrider Foundation, Ventura County Chapter
(805) 648-4005

February 19, 2003
Fair official says former board members illegally OK'd home for ex-CEO

"Gibbs failed to notify the city of Ventura and the state Coastal Commission before he installed th home and moved into it in January 2001. The home sits on the fairgrounds just yards from the Surfers Point beach."

By John Scheibe,
February 19, 2003

A top Ventura County Fair official Tuesday denounced former board members for agreeing behind closed doors to use public money to buy a home for the fair's former chief executive officer.
"This was never discussed in public and it was never budgeted," fair board Vice President Ginger Gherardi said as the board considered Tuesday whether to keep or sell the modular home used by Roger Gibbs and his family.
Gibbs moved out of the fairgrounds home in early January after resigning as CEO in late December. Gibbs and board members said a difference in philosophies led to his departure, although some privately raised questions about his spending practices.
Gherardi took aim at former board members, saying state Deputy Attorney General Jerry Blair has determined they broke the state's open-meeting law when they approved the purchase of the $78,000 home behind closed doors during a Dec. 19, 2000, meeting.
Gov. Gray Davis replaced the old board with Gherardi and seven other new members starting in September 2001.
Gibbs was supposed to spend no more than $22,000 for improvements to the home under a deal he made with the former board, Gherardi said. But he instead spent nearly $77,000 on upgrades, including landscaping and a wooden deck, she said.
She said Gibbs hid most of the expenditures by "burying them in the maintenance budget."
Gibbs, 55, did not return a phone call Tuesday.

February 2, 2003

Surfrider Comments on Surfers Point EIR

The Surfrider Foundation strongly supports the concept of “Managed Retreat” as it applies to relocating damaged infrastructure inland.  We also support the conceptual “Preferred Alternative” identified in the Draft EIR. 

However, we do have significant concerns relating to specific design details within the Preferred Alternative, as well as the disclosure of environmental impacts associated with all of the alternatives presented in the EIR.  These issues are discussed at length in our written comments, along with proposed mitigation measures and suggestions for the Final EIR.  We present a summary of these here: an in-depth discussion may seen in  SurfriderComments.pdf  (adobe acrobat file)

We believe the following measures would incur Significant Impacts under CEQA:

1)    Placing large quantities of cobble in the surf zone or on the recreational beach.
2)    Excavation within the intertidal zone below MLLW.
3)    Excavation of the existing beach and remnant dunes.
4)    Stormwater discharge using the storm drain near the rivermouth.
5)    Reconstructing existing infrastructure as proposed in Alternative 4.

We offer the following mitigation measures to avoid these impacts:

Suggested Mitigation Measure 1:  Significant Impacts to coastal resources can be avoided by placing sediments in the backshore area currently occupied by the parking lot, rather than along the active shoreline.

Suggested Mitigation Measure 2:  Design of the cobble berm and dunes should be modified to minimize excavation of the existing beach and dunes and optimize opportunities to place sediment material in the backshore area. 

Suggested Mitigation Measure 3: Fairgrounds runoff should be treated and directed to the Figueroa storm drain

We also offer the following recommendations for the Final EIR:

Recommendation 1: The Noble (2000) report should be included as an appendix to the EIR.

Recommendation 2: The final design should attempt to maximize the retreat zone in order to increase the life expectancy of the managed retreat project.

Recommendation 3: The information in the EIR relating to the “Cobble Nourishment Demonstration Project” should be updated, and a quantification of longshore transport from the demonstration site should be performed.

Recommendation 4:  A lifespan and associated cost analysis should be performed to compare the various alternatives.

Recommendation 5:  The “No Retreat” Alternative 4 should be removed from the “Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project” EIR.

January 21, 2003

Surfers Point - Fair Board OK's Managed Retreat Project

At their Board Meeting today, the Directors of Seaside Park voted to honor the prior board's commitment to Managed Retreat, and endorsed the EIR's "Preferred Alternative" originally proposed by the Surfrider Foundation.  This move clears the way for final design of the beach restoration project, the consensus solution to more than a decade of discussion on how to solve this coastal erosion problem.
Following a presentation by Ventura City Engineer Rick Raives, and considerable discussion and public comment, the board approved the "Managed Retreat" concept with only one dissenting vote.  Originally conceived by a working group of State and Local government agencies and citizen representatives, the retreat concept includes relocation of the erosion damaged bike path and parking lot at Surfers Point, near the mouth of the Ventura River.  The preferred alternative provides for comprehensive restoration of the beach and dunes and the excavation and removal of all artificial fill placed beneath the parking lot.
Stating that their Master Plan process is just getting underway, the fair board reserved the right to  request that further design relating to Shoreline Drive and the adjacent dirt parking area be held up until their future needs are better defined.  This is in contrast to the prior fair board, who throughout the seven year planning process insisted that they required at least 3 traffic lanes on Shoreline Drive and mitigation for loss of parking.  The dirt lot was to be paved and a modern drainage system installed under the current plan.  Shoreline Drive was also to be widened to provide beach parking along the city street.  The Fairgrounds Master Plan may ultimately include other alternatives inland from the relocated bike path, but the board has approved returning the beach parking to a more natural sand and cobble environment.
Surfrider thanks the members of the working group as well as all those who have participated in this process over the years.  We look forward to the successful completion of this project within the next two years.
Comments on the Surfers Point EIR are accepted through Feb 2.  Copies of the EIR may be obtained from the City Planning Department.
The Fairgrounds is soliciting public input on their Master Plan.  For more information see

January 3, 2003

To all Ventura County Surfriders and concerned citizens: 

First of all, let me wish you all a Happy New Year!

January 2003 is a busy month for Surfrider and our local coast.  We will once again need to show our unified support for the Surfers Point Managed Retreat project by attending 2 public meetings:

Surfers Point EIR - Public Meeting:  Thursday, January 16th, at City Hall from 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Fair Board Meeting: Tuesday, January 21st 10 am

The latest Draft of the environmental report (EIR) is now available at the City Hall Planning Department and city libraries.  The public comment period for the draft environmental impact report began on December 19th and will end on February 2nd 2003.

First the good news: following last years public meeting, the "Surfrider Alternative" was added to the EIR, and has now become the working group's "Preferred Alternative". This alternative removes all artificial fill, restores the dunes, and uses cobble buried in the backshore rather than a concrete seawall.  Thanks to everyone who turned out last year to voice your support!

However, the EIR now also includes a "no retreat" alternative, which would re-construct the bike path where it is and dump cobble on the beach to protect it as needed.  The EIR states there is no impact to this approach, and this is the cheapest option.  It is also the option preferred by the fairgrounds.

The new Fair Board will be "re-visiting" this project at their meeting on Jan 21st.  In 1999, following 7 years of negotiation between the City and other State agencies, the prior Fair Board provided written endorsement of the Managed Retreat concept.  Their endorsement allowed over $0.5 Million to be spent to develop this project.  However, the new Fair Board members have expressed a desire to rebuild the bike path and parking lot without the retreat.  A strong public voice at this meeting will be needed to show the Fair Board that Managed Retreat is the only sensible long-term solution to the problem. 

May 1, 2002

EIR to include Alternative 5: Modified Surfrider Foundation Alternative

click here to view this plan:   Alt 5.pdf

Description of the Modified Surfrider Alternative:

This proposed plan for "Managed Retreat" at Surfers Point is intended to maximize the opportunities for beach restoration while minimizing impacts to the active shoreline and coastal access and recreation, including the surfing resource.  This alternative is effectively a derivative of the large cobble berm of Alternative 3.  The difference lies in the attention to the existing artificial fill within the retreat zone and the comprehensive restoration of the remnant dunes.  This alternative consists of the following:

1)    Remove all non-beach-grade fill material within the retreat zone, including contaminated soils and all debris found below the parking lot and bike path.

2)    Replace the excavated material with cobble and beach quality sand in order to:
a.    Construct a buried cobble berm within the backshore area of the west half of the project area near the river mouth;
 b.    Reshape and augment the existing cobble test section within the east half of the project area to establish a more protective cobble berm;
c.    Re-establish dunes over the cobble berm in the west half, and over buried portions of the cobble in the east half of the project area.  Dune restoration and management will include:
i.    Re-vegetate with native dune plants
ii.    Designate walkways for beach access
iii.    Interpretive signage to educate beach users

Special Thanks to all who attended the November Public Meeting

Your voice was heard, and you made a difference!

Watch for future announcements and updates

January 4, 2002

EIR Needs Rewrite: Delayed 4 Months

The Working Group has decided to rewrite the EIR, so the Public Hearing previously scheduled for Jan 17 has been cancelled.

There were officially 101 people signed up at the November Public Workshop at the fairgrounds!  According to the city they were almost all surfers (although there were many other local folks who came because of the Surfrider newspaper ad.)  There was the impression that there was a lot of support for the "Surfrider Alternative".  Congratulations to all of you who showed up and voiced your concerns!

On December 11 the Working Group decided that the "Surfrider Alternative" should be added to the Draft EIR.  The "No Retreat Alternative", which had previously been removed from the DEIR will also be added (this proposal would rebuild the bike path in its existing location – the third time – and construct a cobble revetment to protect it.)

This means approximately 4 months before the release of the new draft, with a fiscal impact of $39,000.  City Council will have to approve the additional funding.  To date $525,214 has been spent on the project, including the cobble nourishment.  $281,417 remains in existing grant funding.  (So far all we have is a cobble revetment, a null EIR, and a few rich consultants)

Another related issue: the Coastal Commission has declined to provide a permit for a 75 foot wide cobble "nourishment" at the Surfers Point Park "free lot".  This was ideally designed to enhance the area by replacing the concrete rip rap with cobble.  However, the Commission has reservations about this “nourishment” project on the grounds that it appears to be an engineered structure.  Indeed, extending the cobble seaward of the existing shoreline would have an impact to the coastal processes, potentially affecting the surf!

The Working Group discussed the Coastal Commission's "new position" on cobble, with an eye to how this could affect the managed retreat project since "all the proposals use cobble".  I pointed out that the problem was probably where the cobble was placed, (i.e. in the surf zone) rather than the cobble itself... 

Stay tuned –

november 29, 2001

Public Workshop On Surfers Point Managed Retreat

Over 100 people packed into a room in the Derby Club on Thursday evening to listen to city engineers and consultants describe the Managed Retreat Project at Surfers Point.

After a half hour powerpoint presentation by city engineer Rick Raives, the public was given an opportunity to ask questions.  Many questions were asked about the cobble berm conceptual design, parking, buried seawall, and the EIR process.  Answers were often vague, or avoided.  For instance, Paul Jenkin asked if the engineers could explain the restoration aspects of the project, particularly relating to the dunes and buried fill under the parking lot.  No answer.  When asked if there had been an overtopping design analysis for the seawall, there was no answer.  When asked if there was a funding mechanism for future nourishment, there was none.  When asked why a seawall was needed, it was called an "insurance policy", and it was pointed out that Surfrider had signed off on the "conceptual plan" that included a seawall.

Many suggestions were made by workshop participants.  These included walkways over the dunes and cobble, parking structure to alleviate fairgrounds parking shortage, moving the road, and moving the fairgrounds. 

Although the consultants stated that there  may be  a public meeting during the Draft EIR review process, and that public input is a key aspect of CEQA, many people felt that this is a done deal, and their voices are not heard.  This feeling is not surprising considering several comments about surfers, even though many public interests were represented.

Please attend future meetings - your participation is necessary to save the beach!


November 20, 2001

Surfers Point Public Workshop

Thursday November 29

6:00 PM at the Derby Club

(Ventura County Fairgrounds)


To all Surfriders and beachgoers in Ventura County;

This is it folks - after 10 years we're almost there. But now we need you!

Please come to this public meeting and show your support for Surfrider's efforts to ensure a sensible restoration project at Surfers Point. This may be your last chance to participate!


November 21, 2001

Surfrider Foundation supports Managed Retreat at Surfers Point,

but questions existing proposals

On Thursday November 29, 2001, the City of Ventura is hosting a “Public Workshop” for the Surfers Point Managed Shoreline Retreat Project to provide opportunity for public review and comment. The project includes a precedent setting plan to relocate the damaged bike path and parking lot inland and restore the beach to a natural state. However, the current proposal falls short of the Surfrider Foundation’s decade-long vision.

The Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has participated in a working group of state and local government agencies that formed in 1995 in response to the erosion of the bike path. Paul Jenkin, the Chapter’s Environmental Director, says that this project has “enormous potential for the environmental restoration of the most popular recreational beach in the county.”

Although the Surfrider Foundation supports the project in concept, the organization holds some significant concerns about the details. Jenkin continues, “the plan as currently proposed does not demonstrate a respect for the dynamic processes inherent to the mouth of the Ventura River and the remaining dune area. The original intent was to relocate the damaged infrastructure to allow space for the daily ebb and flow of sand and cobble. The current design calls for a complex engineered solution that may unintentionally damage the beach by inhibiting this process.”

This project offers an opportunity of state and national significance for its innovative solution to coastal erosion problems. Jenkin concludes, “because this project may serve as an example for other cities experiencing similar problems throughout the country, we want to be sure that the project approved by the City of Ventura achieves a successful long term solution.”

Contact: Paul Jenkin (805)648-4005

Surfrider Foundation - Ventura County Chapter


Surfers Point Update - September 2001

On August 29, 2001, the City of Ventura EIR Committee met to approve the Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project Draft EIR. This would have marked the beginning of a 45 day public review period, but public comment and other concerns prompted the Committee to delay the release of the EIR. The committee's action requires that city staff address specific issues regarding an inadequate project description.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that a project description be specific enough to allow evaluation of environmental impacts. In his verbal comments to the EIR committee, Paul Jenkin, the Ventura County Chapter's Environmental Director, stated that the Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project as currently proposed does not provide sufficient design specifications. For instance, the intent of the project is to relocate the damaged bike path and parking lot, but the Draft EIR does not provide drawings to show where these facilities would exist. Moreover, the conceptual design for a cobble berm is not specific enough to determine the environmental impacts to the existing beach and dunes.

In addition to hearing Surfrider concerns, the EIR committee questioned a "mitigation measure" that would require all dunes at Surfers Point to be graded to a height lower than a two-foot high cutoff wall adjacent to the bike path to protect it from blowing sand. This would legally require that if a dune were to naturally grow higher than the wall that it would have to be flattened, a measure that contradicts the purpose of this beach restoration project.

The dune mitigation issue, combined with the "public discourse", prompted the EIR committee to reject Staff recommendations to approve the Draft EIR. This places the burden on city staff and their consultants to revise the Draft EIR document to address these concerns.

Surfrider has been a part of the process at Surfers Point since the chapter's inception in 1991. Our first involvement was with a dune restoration and management program for the dune area near the river mouth. Surfrider volunteers worked with a grant from the Coastal Conservancy to build the rail fence to direct foot traffic and minimize impacts to the dune vegetation. Although the revegetation and restoration component of this project was not completed, Surfrider volunteers have diligently continued to maintain this fence for the past decade. The result is the continued survival of these remnant dunes, a key component of the beach near the Ventura River.

Surfrider was also at the scene of the 1992 dumping of an unpermitted "emergency" rock revetment in response to erosion damage to the bike path. The Chapter's first chairman, Rex Thomas, sat down in front of the heavy equipment to try to stop rocks from being dumped on the beach. A cease and desist order from the Coastal Commission eventually stopped the revetment, but over 200 feet of rocks remain on the beach to this day.

In 1995, Senator Jack O'Connell convened a working group to seek a solution to this problem at the most popular beach in Ventura County. The Ventura County Chapter was the sole citizen representative on this panel of government agencies, and has diligently remained a part of the process. Indeed, a proposal by the Chapter to relocate the damaged infrastructure evolved into the "Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project". If done right, this project will become an example of a progressive new shoreline management strategy currently being formulated by the State of California.

The Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation remains committed to an environmentally sensitive, long-term solution to the problems at Surfers Point. Look for upcoming announcements for public meetings regarding Surfers Point, and plan to attend and voice your support for the restoration of Surfers Point!

March, 2001

A public meeting to discuss the Environmental Impact Report and take public comment on the project was held on March 6 at the Derby Club. Surfrider Foundation representatives were present, and many valid comments were presented to the project manager and environmental consultant. Surfrider also provided written comments to the Initial Study/Environmental Assessment document.

Surfers' Point Update - Fall 2000

A Look at the Plan - Surfers Point Restoration Project

After months of debate, the Surfer's Point Working Group has agreed on a plan for the Surfers Point Restoration Project. This plan will be used as the preferred alternative in the Environmental Impact Report that is now underway.

The plan moves the bike path to the back of the parking lot. The rest of the parking lot will be removed and replaced with dunes and cobble. This new location of the bike path provides for an average 64.5 foot setback (i.e. "retreat") from the existing edge of the bike path. Shoreline Drive will be widened back to the Fairgrounds fence to provide face-in beach parking along the street as well as three lanes of traffic.

The Ventura Chapter extends our thanks to the City of Ventura, Seaside Park, and the other public agencies that have persevered on this issue for so long. Surfrider remains an integral part of the planning process, and we will alert you to upcoming public meetings expected next year.

Cobble hits the Beach! - Beach Nourishment Project

Every year human activity within our rivers and streams intercepts huge amounts of sediment before it can reach our beaches. In Ventura County especially, we have seen how beaches with a reduced sand supply erode away. The result is the construction of seawalls and other coastal structures, and the inevitable loss of our beaches.

In September, the Ventura County Flood Control District began a project to clear a channel under the Santa Ana Bridge near Oak View, less than 10 miles up from the mouth of the Ventura River. In a precedent setting effort, the City of Ventura coordinated with the County to have approximately 6,000 cubic yards of sand and cobble from the river delivered to the beach at Surfers Point.

This project required cooperation with the Ventura County Fairgrounds, funding from the California Coastal Conservancy and permits from the California Coastal Commission. The result is an increased awareness of coastal sediment supplies among these government agencies. And in the process we benefit from the temporary improvements of the eroded section of Surfers' Point. Tons of dangerous rebar and rip-rap were removed and replaced with cobble from the river, making the beach a much safer place.

This project demonstrates one of the ways that our beaches could be maintained - through artificial replenishment using opportunistic sources of sediment. Whenever sediment destined for the beach is to be removed from the natural system, it should be placed on or near the beach to which it was destined.

However, in the long run this is not the preferred means for building beaches. Ideally, flood control should evolve so that artificial replenishment is no longer necessary. Our efforts to remove Matilija Dam and restore the Ventura River will go a long way to restoring the natural flow of sand to our beaches. Renewing the natural supplies of sediment will make artificial programs like this unnecessary so that one day we can all enjoy a natural beach, free of seawalls and dump trucks.

The Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation would like to thank the City of Ventura and all the public agencies that made this project happen.


Tuesday August 15, 2000

Surfers Point Managed Retreat Project:

A panel of representatives from the City of Ventura and the Surfers Point Working Group interviewed several consultants for the environmental review (EIR) portion of the managed retreat project. A consultant was selected, and the city will enter into contract negotiations.

A timeline of one year has been specified for the environmental review. With this schedule it is likely that a final project will be approved and construction will begin within the next 2 years.

This latest development represents another milestone in the restoration of Surfers Point.


August 2000

Surfers' Point Update - Summer 2000

Managed Retreat Engineering Study

The Surfer's Point Working Group has been meeting monthly since Noble Consultants began working on plans for the managed retreat at Surfers' Point this year. Progress has been made toward a preferred plan, and the Environmental Review Process should begin later this year.

However, early plans drew criticism from Surfrider representative Paul Jenkin. The major concern being that parking and public access has not yet been addressed. But even more alarming was that the initial plan changed direction. Instead of restoring the dunes, this plan called for the excavation of the existing beach and dunes to be replaced with a fifteen foot high "cobble berm" extending from Shoreline Drive to the high water line. Stating that sand placed on top of cobble may be unstable, the consultant said that the dune restoration initially envisioned might not be feasible. Ironically, he continues to refer to the beach on the other side of the river mouth at Emma Wood as the model for the shoreline restoration project. (Look at those dunes sometime, and you get an idea of what Surfers' Point should ideally look like).

More recent plans provide other options for the beach restoration that will ultimately serve as a buffer zone for Shoreline Drive while hopefully preserving the unique character of the cobble and sand beach formed by the Ventura River. Our hope is that the new parking plan and bike path will soon be developed to the satisfaction of the working group, and impacts to the existing beach and dunes will be minimized.

A lot of work remains to be done, and each monthly meeting reveals another chapter in this ongoing saga. Rest assured that Surfrider remains an integral part of the planning process. Check our website for more information on our efforts to "Grow the Beach" in Ventura.


Sand and Cobble Destined for Surfer's Point - Beach Nourishment Project

Over the last 50 years, diminishing supplies of sand have become a critical problem resulting in erosion and the loss of beaches countywide. Surfrider Ventura has tirelessly advocated that sand destined for the beach should not be removed from the system that feeds the beach.

Although sand mining operations have been discontinued on the Ventura River, public agencies routinely remove large volumes of beach quality sand and cobble from debris basins, highways and river channels as part of ongoing flood control measures. Millions of cubic yards of potential beach are commonly removed from the systems that feed the beach to become concrete or construction fill.

Through our advocacy, this situation is beginning to change. One of the first projects is slated to happen later this year. Sand and cobble removed from the Ventura River will be deposited on the beach in front of the bike path at Surfer's Point. Up to 8,000 cubic yards of sand and cobble will come from the Ventura River upstream of the Santa Ana bridge as part of Ventura County Flood Control Department's work to alleviate flooding problems resulting from El Niño storms.

Because of the large percentage of cobble, much of this material could have ended up in a landfill. Instead, it will create a protective buffer 50 to 70 feet wide and four to eight feet thick in front of the bike path where today there is a 4-foot drop off. Monitoring of this project will conducted for an 18-month period to determine its effects on the beach.

This project is likely to happen this September. When you see this new beach being built, remember that although it may look a little odd at first, these rocks and sand are from the river - finally making it to their rightful place as part of our beach rather than being trucked away inland.


Matilija Dam Removal Update

Endangered River Status:

In April, representatives from local environmental organizations joined to highlight the status of the Ventura River as the third most endangered river in the United States. The event was held at the Matilija Dam, the primary culprit behind the river's threatened status. The extensive media coverage on television and in the newspapers has increased the momentum of public support for the removal of the dam.

 Appraisal Study Complete:

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Reclamation has completed an Appraisal Report for Matilija Dam Removal. The report consists of an initial evaluation of several proposed methods for removing the dam and the estimated 6 million cubic yards of impounded sediments. Initial cost estimates range from $20 million to $180 million. This wide range reflects alternate methods of handling the huge quantity of sediment. Allowing river flood flows to transport the sediment during a phased removal of the dam is the least expensive method, but has the highest risk of downstream flooding. The highest cost alternative utilizes mechanical transport of sediment by slurry pipeline to the beach (just like harbor dredging). This method would have the highest level of control, and would provide immediate benefit to the beaches. It is likely that the final project will include some combination of the alternative methods: phased natural transport of sediment, mechanical removal of sediment, and stabilization of sediment and site restoration.

More study is required to refine and quantify impacts and to choose the optimal removal method(s). The Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation will be working to gain funding and authorization for a Feasibility Study, the next step in this long process.

 Demonstration Project:

The next big event will be the arrival of the Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt on October 12 of this year to launch a demonstration project at Matilija Dam. The project will entail removing a section of the concrete 'wing' of the dam. This project will demonstrate the feasibility and political support for the decommissioning of Matilija Dam.

 Matilija Coalition Formed:

In order to maintain the momentum and increase public awareness, several environmental groups have formally joined forces as the Matilija Coalition. The coalition is coordinated by the Environmental Defense Center, and includes the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Friends of the Ventura River and the Environmental Coalition. These local groups are strengthened through the participation of American Rivers in Washington, DC, and the California-based Friends of the River and CalTrout. The Matilija Coalition will work as the private sector arm of the efforts to remove Matilija Dam from the Ventura River.

If you have a group that would like to learn more about this issue, please contact Paul Jenkin ((805) 648-7255 to arrange a presentation.


Monday, April 10, 2000

Matilija Dam Press Conference

The environmental group American Rivers listed the Ventura River as the third most endangered in the nation.  The press conference was to announce this designation.  The following is a transcript of the Surfider press speech delivered by Paul Jenkin:

More than 5 years ago Jim Edmondson gave a CALTROUT presentation to our local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation - this opened our eyes to the effect of this dam on our beaches, and we have been working on this issue ever since.

The Surfrider Foundation is currently dealing with the issue of beach erosion around the world.  When we look at Ventura beaches, only 15 miles downstream of here, we see an eroded bike path and parking lot at Surfers Point, a seawall that currently needs $1.5 million in repairs, and a groin field that had to be put in to retain the sand that we do have left in order to protect houses on the beach.  These symptoms of a receding shoreline are in large part due to this dam that traps more than a third of the sand that the Ventura River once delivered to the coast.

Today Matilija dam is obsolete because of  the sediment built up behind it - there’s basically 50 years worth of beach trapped behind this dam. Removing this dam and putting all that sand back on the beach where it belongs will help greatly in solving our regional beach erosion problems. There’s enough sand that upon its initial removal it would widen all the beaches in south Ventura County by 30 feet.  And in the future the beaches will continue to benefit from the restored supply of sand that a free flowing river will provide.  We really see this as the long term solution to save our beaches that are endangered by erosion and seawalls.

The Ventura Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation strongly supports the efforts of all the government agencies currently working on this precedent setting opportunity.  We believe that the removal of Matilija dam will truly demonstrate how watershed restoration through dam removal can have far reaching benefits today and for future generations.

Thursday, March 30, 2000 7 pm

Growing the Beaches Public Event

A Multi-Media Presentation on
Restoring the River of Sand to Ventura

GPIW Patagonia store in Ventura, CA

The evening was a huge sucess - thanks to all of you who came out for this exciting community event!

A total of 200 people were present, including a dozen representives of City, County, and State government and agencies.  The main room was overflowing and people were standing along the sides and all the way into the back room.

After a short introduction, Paul Jenkin told the story of why he is involved in local issues relating to the beach.  Then he showed his slide presentation that illustrates how beaches work and describes the ongoing efforts to restore Surfers Point and the Ventura River.

The highlight of the presentation was the public debut of the "Growing the Beaches" film.  Projected digitally on a 12 foot screen with stereo sound, the film captured the audience with its artistic presentation of information through interviews, sights, and sounds.

After the film, the buzz in the room was evident. Supervisor Flynn took the opportunity to let the public know how excited he is to be a part of the dam removal efforts on the Ventura River.  Other participants provided their comments to the audience.

A productive queston and answer period followed.  After the event, people enjoyed the food and drinks and had smaller group discussions as the crowd slowly dissipated.

This event truly served to elevate the level of public awareness and support for the exciting restoration efforts underway in Ventura.  It gave the public an opportunity to ask questions and see the level of commitment of the politicians who came out for 2 hours for a weeknight event.

"Growing the Beaches - Restoring the River of Sand to Ventura" is available in VHS video format.  It is for sale at the Patagonia store in Ventura, or may be ordered by sending a check for $15 to:

               Surfrider Foundation, Ventura County Chapter
               239 W Main St
               Ventura, CA 93001

********   Special Thanks to All Who Made This Event Possible  ***********
********          Together We Can Make it Happen!              ***********

Video Public Release Event

Growing the Beaches
A Multi-Media Presentation
Restoring the River of Sand to Ventura

Thursday, March 30, 2000 7 pm

Imagine the beach at Surfer's Point 30-feet wider than it is today, the broken asphalt, eroded bluffs and chain-link fence replaced by a thick layer of sand and cobble backed by dunes. Imagine the Ventura River flowing freely from the mountains to the ocean, a healthy population of steelhead trout navigating its waters. Imagine the way things used to be and could be again.

Join us at the Ventura Patagonia store, Great Pacific Iron Works, as Paul Jenkin, chairman of the Surfrider Foundation's Ventura County chapter, chronicles a precedent-setting effort to take out an obsolete dam, rebuild our beaches and restore the river's natural processes. Learn more about the coast and its connection to the river. Hear from government representatives and participants involved in this restoration project that could put Ventura County on the environmental map.

A $3 donation is suggested. It will be used to help Ventura County's Surfrider Foundation continue its conservation and activism efforts. Refreshments will be served. For more information, please phone 643-6074.

Monday Feb 7, 2000

Surfers Point Managed Retreat project

The Ventura City Council voted unanimously to enter an Engineering Services Agreement with Noble Consultants coastal engineers to provide preliminary engineering services at a cost of  $138,338.

Paul Jenkin and Derek Turner, a Surfrider member and founder of the Full Sail Windsurfing Club, were on hand at the City Council Meeting to provide comments in support of the project.  The following is an approximate transcript of Surfrider comments spoken by Paul Jenkin at the City Council Meeting:

"Surfers Point is the most popular, most visited, and most used public area in our city.   This beach is the recreational focus for thousands of Ventura citizens as well as those who come to visit our city.  Those who walk, jog, or bike along the shore as well as those who enter the ocean waters to swim, surf or windsurf hold a great value to this area.  Indeed, it is Ventura's community asset.

As you all know, Surfrider has been involved in this issue for many years.  We commend the city for taking the lead on this project.  The Surfers Point restoration plan is the result of years of discussion and compromise, and represents the good will of all parties involved.  The restoration of this popular beach will benefit our entire community.

This action represents the start of a much needed and long overdue restoration process, and I urge the council to support this project.  Thank you."

December 1999

Surfers' Point Update

1. Engineering Services

 Responses to the September RFQ request were due on November 1, 1999, and proposals were received from Moffatt and Nichol Engineers, and from Noble Consultants, Inc. A selection committee interviewed the two firms on November 15 and selected Noble for the project. Coastal Resources Grant funds will be used for the engineering services.

2. Federal Transportation Funds

 Things continue to move slowly in accessing the Federal Transportation funds. On November 3rd the California Transportation Commission was notified of the proposed transfer from State Parks to the City of $157,000 of ISTEA-TEA funds. The Commission will not actually act on the transfer until their December meeting, however.

A request package was forwarded to Caltrans on September 24 asking for authorization to utilize $293,290 in STPE funds ($136,290 of a $368,000 grant to the City and the $157,000 to be transferred from State Parks which must be obligated prior to April 2000 or be lost) to retain an environmental consulting firm to prepare the appropriate environmentl documentation. I suspect it will be January before the requested authorization is received since I don't believe it can be approved until the Transportation Commission acts on the transfer of the State Parks grant.

3. Pilot Project

 An opportunity has arisen to test the efficacy of a principal component of the managed retreat concept - the ability to stabilize the nearshore beach profile with a natural cobble mattress. The Ventura County Flood Control District expects to remove about 8000 cubic yards of cobble material from the Ventura River bed in the area of the Santa Ana Blvd. bridge next summer. This is ideal material for the Surfers Point shoreline and provides a chance to test the cobble mattress idea in a limited area prior to committing millions of dollars to extensive public improvement whose survivability will be dependent upon the viability of the cobble mattress concept. The pilot project would involve placing the 8000 cubic yards of material along the shoreline extending about 600 ft. easterly from the river levee. The blanket would be about 70 ft. wide and 5 ft. thick, subject of course to a review by the coastal engineer. Hopefully, if all the agencies and the Flood Control District cooperate we might be able to put the pilot project together and show some progress by next summer.

I suggested that they remove and replace the ILLEGAL revetment near the rivermouth with this cobble material to jump start the "restoration" process - it appears the fairgrounds would be unwilling to allow the removal of this structure, even though it serves no purpose and has caused mass destruction of their parking lot. So any replenishment material would be placed in front of the revetment.

 Also, there still appears to be an underlying assumption that the shoreline needs "stabilizing" - my take is that retreat will solve all immediate problems, and dam removal will solve all future problems.

Either way, it will be interesting to see if this "pilot project" develops further.

October 1999

Beach Restoration Project Update

The Surfers Point restoration project is moving ahead slowly. The working group has met twice this year. The first meeting on April 9th was a basic "kick off" with some discussion of hiring a project manager. The City of Ventura has since hired Richard Parsons to manage the project.

The second meeting on July 23rd included a discussion of the project description to be used in the selection of an engineering and environmental consultant. Some highlights included the fairgrounds concern that they would keep all three lanes of shoreline drive as required for their operations, and an involved discussion of the "buried seawall". This feature has since become an option in the plan, whereas it was originally assumed a necessary part of the project.

Funding has been slow to arrive, but the city now has $874,000 for this project. $243,000 in State funding and $531,000 in Federal funding from a TEA-21 transportation grant. The city is also working to transfer a State Parks Federal Grant ($100,000 for construction of a new Surfers Point Bike Path) to the design fund.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) has gone out to coastal engineers, and selection of a contractor will be under way soon. Next year should see the beginning of the design and environmental work leading to the eventual realization of the Surfers Point restoration. Stay tuned…

January 1999

Surfers' Point Update:

Although it seems like the years go by and nothing changes at Surfers' Point, behind the scenes the political wheels are slowly turning. This past November the City of Ventura received a grant of $243,000 for the "Managed Shoreline Retreat" Restoration Plan that was unveiled in November 1997. This money from the State Resources Agency will fund an engineering design slated to begin in 1999. A second installment of money will put this design through an Environmental Impact Study (EIS), tentatively scheduled for 2000. Still more funding will be required to build the $7 million project, but if all goes well construction should begin during 2001. (isn't that next century?)

It is certainly a slow process, but this latest development is great news for our most popular local surf spot. The "Managed Shoreline Retreat" at Surfers Point will include relocating the bike path to Shoreline Drive, and paving a new parking lot inside the fairgrounds across the street. The new parking lot will provide continued public access, and will include a drain and filter system to eliminate the polluted runoff that has been such a problem on the beaches.

In order to reconstruct the beach and mimic natural conditions near the mouth of the Ventura River, large quantities of cobble will be placed along the shoreline. "Feeder dunes" will be constructed in the backshore area and planted with dune grass. The concept provides for renourishing the dune and cobble beach as required to provide adequate protection from storm waves. At this time there are still plans for a "buried seawall", located along Shoreline Drive as a line of last defense. One of our concerns is that once there's a seawall in place, there will be no incentive to replenish and maintain nature's seawall, the beach and dunes.

The big selling point to secured this grant money is the progressive nature of this project. It is unprecedented on the West Coast to retreat from the shoreline and artificially replenish a beach. (Beach replenishment as an alternative to seawalls has become common practice on the East Coast). This project will serve as a "case study" for the entire West Coast, and hopefully will become an example of what can be done to rescue our beaches. Other communities from Monterrey to San Diego will be watching as Surfers Point gets its facelift. The Grant Application included letters from all parties involved, including the State Fairgrounds. Until now they have been reluctant to give up any parking spaces, so their support as the property owner is key to the project.

The Grant Application also included our Chapter's letter from last year listing our suggestions and concerns. Indeed, much of the plan for a "Managed Retreat" comes directly from years of input and suggestions from the Ventura County Surfrider Chapter. In this respect the "Growing the Beaches" program, (see sidebar), has been very successful in educating not only the general public, but also those who make the decisions that affect our local beaches.

Once the engineering design phase begins this year, the stakeholder working group coordinated by State Senator Jack O'Connell will reconvene. There are also plans for a public forum to discuss the project. The Surfrider Foundation, Ventura County Chapter will continue to be a part of the process as we move into the next century and plan for the "new" Surfers' Point. We encourage anyone who has an interest or concerns about Surfers Point to attend our monthly meetings and watch for upcoming city meetings. Now is the time to air your concerns, as it will be hard to get changes once the final design is completed.

"Growing the Beaches"; 1997-1998

"Growing the Beaches" is a slide show designed to elevate the awareness of coastal erosion problems in Ventura County and to promote a policy of beach restoration rather than continued seawall construction. We know that hard construction causes the loss of the beach, and the City has begun to see the value of the beach at Surfers Point. Paul Jenkin has presented "Growing the Beaches" to the City of Ventura, BEACON (Beach Erosion Authority for Control Operations and Nourishment), and the California Shore and Beach Preservation Association (CSBPA). He also presented at a public forum in San Clemente where residents are concerned with plans for a new bike path along their beach. A public showing at Patagonia in Ventura drew about 40 interested persons, and the website continues to draw comments from concerned people, some of whom have written to the city and/or done research projects for High School or College. Selections of photos and graphics are displayed at our "road show" to educate the public during local events such as the annual Beach Party.

In addition to the "Managed Retreat" concept, "Growing the Beaches" also promotes the long-term goal of restoring the natural sand supply from the Ventura River. As a result, BEACON and the Ventura County Supervisors are now addressing Matilija Dam, an obsolete structure on the upper Ventura River that traps sediments before reaching the beach. This dam also blocks migrating Steelhead Trout from their breeding grounds in the National Forest, putting them on the Federal Endangered Species List. The Surfrider National EIT (Environmental Issues Team) is preparing an official resolution by qualified experts, and in doing so will join a growing consortium of groups calling for the removal of Matilija Dam.
For more visit "growing the beaches"

General Background - 1997

Our Chapter has been working with local agencies for a solution to this problem. Until November 1997, all plans were in a "political stalemate", and the area was deteriorating rapidly. However, a new plan has recently been proposed by the City of Ventura that includes many of Surfrider's recommendations.

The crumbling asphalt, concrete barricades and rusty chain link fences at Surfers’ Point are a hazardous eyesore. The problem has been worsened by the placement of a rock revetment at the upper end of the point. Deemed an "emergency measure" by the City and Fairgrounds, this structure has resulted in increased erosion that threatens the remnant dunes that our chapter adopted several years ago by placing protective fences and signs.

The efforts of our chapter so far have helped prevent the construction of a "protective" seawall at the point. Although a seawall would protect the parking lot, it would threaten one of the most popular surf breaks in the county. Access to the water would become difficult and sand would be lost from the area altering the waves and the overall surfing experience. The resulting beachless rip-rap shoreline would be just like Faria Point, a few miles up the coast.

Our goal is the restoration of Surfers’ Point by relocating the bike path inland and cleaning up the rubble - a "managed retreat". In addition, studies are underway for sand replenishment and dune restoration, as well as the removal of Matilija Dam on the Ventura River. This obsolete dam not only barricades the historic breeding grounds of the critically endangered Steelhead Trout, but also traps 40 years of sand that should be on the beaches. The release of this sand to the beaches will greatly ease erosion problems along the Ventura coast. The chapter has printed bumper stickers with the slogan: "Give a Dam, Free the Sand, Grow the Beach".

In order to educate the public on the many issues involved in our local beach erosion problems, Paul Jenkin has created a slide show entitled "Growing the Beaches". This presentation describes the natural processes involved in our local beaches including where the beach sand comes from and where it’s going, and the effects of river dams and coastal construction on the sand supply. The presentation also shows proposed solutions for the erosion problem. Our new "road show" includes prints from the slide show and made it’s debut at the California Beach Festival.

Paul presented "Growing the Beaches" at the California Shore and Beach Preservation Association Annual Conference held in Santa Barbara on November 12-14 1997. The slide show was also presented on January 21st 1998 at the Patagonia store in Ventura. "Growing the Beaches" has also been presented to BEACON, an intergovernmental agency addressing beach erosion in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and the City of Ventura. The presentation has been effective in influencing public policy decisions and increaed awareness of the root causes of our erosion problems. A bike path proposed for the city of San Clemente was cancelled after this presentation was shown at a public meeting sponsored by DeRail the Trail and the San Clemente Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

Many of you may have also read "On the Edge" , an article about Ventura beaches that was published in the September 18th 1997 'Ventura County Reporter'. This article gives the complete story on Surfers’ Point.