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Sand Berm Constructed at Malibu

For several years the Malibu Lagoon has breached on its eastern end regardless of seasonal rainfall or peak flows. Among other impacts, this has caused erosion around the Adamson House estate resulting in landscape alteration, tree removal, and shoreline armoring. For surfers, this breach pattern has taken sediment away from Third Point while simultaneously creating sandbars throughout inside First Point.

The Malibu Surfing Association and the Surfrider Foundation have been working with local, county, and state elected officials and agencies to develop a plan to manage the Malibu Lagoon inlet toward a westerly breach while protecting against further damage associated with an eastern breach.

There are several important benefits to such a plan:
•       Improved surfing conditions at Third Point and First Point
•       Improved beach access and increased beach width
•       Reduced erosion around the Adamson House estate
•       Improved public safety by improving lifeguard access toward Third Point.
•       Possible increase in tidal circulation to wetlands

In the short term, the easterly breach threatens to cause additional erosion this season when the inlet breaches. In response, Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors (LACDBH) has applied for emergency permits with local, state, and federal agencies to construct a seasonal sand berm to prevent an easterly breach. While this berm is meant to prevent an eastern breach at Malibu, berm-building itself is a common activity along the California coast in preparation for the winter storm season.


The Malibu Surfing Association, the Surfrider Foundation, and local surfers have been in regular communication with LACDBH throughout the development of this plan. The sand berm is a low impact response and a temporary solution to an issue that requires a long term plan. Nevertheless, we believe it is an important first step.

Work on this project began at Surfrider Beach on Friday, November 16th and continue through Friday, November 23rd.

In the long term, we will continue our work with stakeholder to develop a management plan that meets all of the necessary local, state, and federal environmental regulations. Such plan will require research, funding, and a sustained commitment from all parties to realize its goals: to benefit surfing, avoid the need for shoreline armoring, improve emergency response times, reduce beach erosion, and improve circulation to the recently restored wetlands. We believe such a plan should be based on soft, non-armored, low-cost structures that are low-impact, easy-to-manage, and may not require action every season. 

In our view, this effort toward a long-term plan now enters a new phase in which the Malibu surfing community (and others) can take an active, positive role in the plan's development, approval, and implementation. We look forward to the work together. Nothing is 'in stone' and active, thoughtful, and respectful contributions will undoubtedly strengthen the plan's vision.

Additional photographs of the work starting on November 15th, 2013 can be see here

Stakeholder Group
California State Parks; City of Malibu; Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors; Los Angeles County Lifeguard Service; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors —Third District; Malibu Surfing Association; Surfrider Foundation; Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission

Permitting Agencies
Army Corps of Engineers; California Coastal Commission; California Division of Fish and Wildlife; California State Lands Commission; California State Parks; City of Malibu; Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board; National Marine Fisheries Service; Office of Historic Preservation, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Nelsen, C. (2012, May 18) - West is Best:  Relocation of the Malibu Lagoon Inlet. 
Online article discusses the goal of establishing a management plan for inlet relocation
based on recommendations made by expert consultants.

Nelsen, C.  (2011, May 25) - Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project & Surfing.  Online
article covers objective review of the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and possible effects
on surf.

Collins, S. (2011, May 13) - The Mechanics of Malibu - Analyzing SoCal’s most iconic surf
spot.  Study covers local characteristics, topography, bathymetry, shape of the coast, and how storms on the other side of the Earth can create such great waves at Malibu.

ESA PWA (2011, May 6) - Malibu Lagoon Restoration - Effects on Surfing and Beach
Conditions. Report conludes that there is insufficient information to link the wetland
restoration to adverse impacts to surfing conditions, and strongly recommends developing a Malibu Creek mouth management plan.