Surfers’ Point Managed Shoreline Retreat Project

Along our California coast pacific storms create large ocean swells with damaging consequences, coastal erosion is a consistent threat to any structure build along this coast. The city of Ventura has learned from experience and is implementing innovative solutions with dealing with these issues. Down at the Ventura Pier and Promenade off of Ventura’s California St, the beach is sandy but very quickly the west end of the beach just north of the Pier, is entirely made up of large pebbles. Though these large pebbles were not brought here by some natural force, they were placed on the beach, along with geotextiles and concrete seawalls to protect our coastal structures. As you walk along the concrete path heading north you quickly notice the sandy beach almost completely disappear, a bit further down the path the signs and extent of erosion are even more prevalent. Large pieces of the existing concrete path have fallen into the ocean, exposed underlaying geotextiles are now slowly ripped away contributing to micro plastic pollution, and any remnants of the once sandy beach are nowhere to be found. Several years of doing the same thing over again, of consistently rebuilding the damage caused by coastal erosion has the city of Ventura looking for better more sustained solutions to the problem. The Surfer’s Point managed retreat project proposes that the bike path and parking lot be pushed back further away from the beach. This would restore the natural buffer zone along the coast, the fairgrounds property would be protected and the new parking lot will treat and filter storm water resulting in increased water quality and a more natural beach. On top of what was the parking lot and bike path, is a layer of cobble stones covered with sand with dunes and vegetation on top of that. These dunes stabilize the beach and restore a more natural beach. This type of project is really the first of it’s kind, moving away from building harden structures, it protects public access to the beach and accommodates rising seas. This being the most heavily used public space in Ventura, the economic value of a vibrate beach is very important to the city.


10 thoughts on “Surfers’ Point Managed Shoreline Retreat Project

  1. Huggins says:

    Hello! This was a very nice article. It is the first time I’ve seen a beach/ shore make of such large pebbles! Based on what you saw (and mentioned) do you think filtering the storm water back towards the sore will improve the chances of this beach having a a sandy shore again?

    • Sanchez-ramirez says:

      Huggins, thank you for your comment and your question. Storm water makes its way back to shore eventually, generally through the use of storm drains. But due to the processes of driving on roads and trash accumulation, by the time these storm water reach the shore it has been contaminated. The process of filtering the water thru the parking lot will help treat the water resulting in better water quality. In order to improve the chances of restoring a sandy shore we have to look to where this beach gets or at once got its sediment input from. Till we find a solution to safely release the sediment build up behind Matilija Dam, or some other source of sediment, then the beach will stay as it is, if not slowly get worse.

  2. DeVera says:

    I really enjoyed reading your article post! I like the observations you made about the large pebbles and how much they impact the beach, and how they aren’t a natural process. It’s also interesting how there’s that rpoject going on, and how it would protect public access, and even accomodate for rising sea levels which is becoming more and more evident.

    • Sanchez-ramirez says:

      DeVera, thank you for reading. The large pebbles are in interesting choice for beach cover, their original purpose was to protect against larger swells as well as hold down the geotextiles that is intended to help prevent the beach from further erosion but some argue that it actually hurts more than it helps. As weathering occurs and the geotextile begins to erode it breaks down and contributes to micro plastics.

  3. Bogna says:

    Very interesting lens! I like that you spoke about the problem, but also the solution that is currently in the works. I assume that many beaches on California’s coast suffer from the same dangers of erosion and places even more man-made structures in danger. I really enjoyed this topic of California’s coast. It was a project I didn’t even know about! Beaches like these are beautiful, but we need to realize that the beach and the ocean are still forces of nature no matter how close we want to live to them.

    • Sanchez-ramirez says:

      Bogna, thank you for your comment, California is know for it’s beaches and coastal culture and therefore it makes sense to protect these places. I like what you said about the ocean being a force of nature and in many instances it’s our build environment that disrupt these natural forces, one of which being sediment transport and coastal sediment processes.

    • Sanchez-ramirez says:

      Ferrer, thank you for your interest in my post. Do follow up on the project, look into the Surfrider Ventura County Chapter. On their website you can find a better explanation about the project and some pictures of phase 1 of the project.

  4. Marovitz says:

    This managed retreat project will be really interesting to watch as it goes through development and into practice. I have always been curious about how the retreat is planned, because consistent sea level rise is expected. It will be difficult to maintain the integrity of the culture at Ventura Pier as the iconic elements move landward, but I am excited to see how we will be able to adapt to the new geography.

    • Sanchez-ramirez says:

      Marovitz, thank you for the comment. The costal culture much like its coastal environment will be changed by the forces of both the ocean as well as the people whom inhabit and how then decide to deal with these changes. I think we can ether save the culture of Ventura and in a way better it by planning accordingly and finding long lasting solutions to our coastal problems, or we continue to be stubborn and fight the forces of the ocean with costly temporary solutions and have it all be lost.

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