Managed Retreat at Surfer’s Point, California
Erosion has been a consistent problem at Surfer’s Point, a popular surfing spot in the City of Ventura, California, for more than 20 years. Multiple options were explored by city and non-governmental groups, including the Surfrider Foundation. Surfrider played a critical role in the approval of a managed retreat strategy, which included relocation of a bike path and parking lot, beach renourishment, habitat restoration, and riprap removal.
In Ventura, California, erosion at Surfer’s Point has been a cause of concern for residents and visitors since the 1980s. Eroding shorelines have damaged both a bike path and parking lot in the area. Managed retreat is a shoreline management approach used to allow eroding shorelines “to advance inward unimpeded.” Coastal infrastructure may be relocated or destroyed as shorelines migrate inland.
The City’s response to the erosion through the 1980s and 1990s was to use shoreline hardening, which ultimately resulted in more intense erosion at Surfer’s Point and at other areas along the coastline; in some places, more than 60 feet of land were lost. In 1995, the California Coastal Commission denied the City of Ventura a permit to continue hardening their shoreline. A working group was created in 2001 to address erosion using a managed retreat approach that includes relocating the bike path and parking lot 60 feet inland, removing rip-rap, restoring the natural beach, providing beach renourishment, and petitioning for the removal of the nearby Matilija Dam to restore natural sand supply. The total construction estimate for this enterprise is about $3.8 million.
Outcomes and Conclusions
Thus far, concrete barriers, asphalt, underground utilities, and riprap have been removed from the beach. Managed retreat is not always the most widely employed shoreline management strategy because it often requires some parties “giving up” their land to the sea. However, a planned retreat may prove to be the most economical and environmentally sound approach as the tide rises. Project leads point to good communication and participation with all the major players in the planning process as part of the project's success thus far. Updates can be found on the project's home page.
Feifel, K. (2010). Managed Retreat at Surfer's Point, California [Case study on a project of the Surfrider Foundation]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/managed-retreat-surfer’s-point-calif... (Last updated January 2012)