Long Beach surfer fighting for bigger waves

Friday, June 22, 2018
Long Beach surfer fighting for bigger waves
EMBED <>More Videos

At the urging of at least one surfer, city leaders in Long Beach are exploring plans that could bring back ocean waves that have nearly disappeared ever since a breakwater structure was built just offshore in 1949.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Seamus Innes loves the ocean, but the surfer hates the breakwater that lies in the sea just offshore in Long Beach.

Before the structure to block waves was built, Long Beach was a bustling surf spot, nicknamed the Waikiki of the West Coast.

But when the breakwater arrived in 1949, everything changed.

"Long Beach is beautiful and wonderful the way it is now; we just want to see it better and more like all the other beaches in Southern California," Innes said.

City leaders in Long Beach are now exploring plans that could bring back some waves. They're partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who are conducting a long-term study to restore the ecosystem.

"If, through the process, we discover opportunities for recreational benefits as well, then that would be fantastic," Long Beach Manager of Government Affairs Diana Tang said.

The partnership has given surfers some hope that the breakwater could be taken down. But Tang explained that there would likely only be minor changes and the recreational benefits are not the top priority.

"Everything from breakwater modifications to adding kelp and other rocky reef habitat are all options we are exploring," she said.

Innes is in his 19th year of trying to get surfers back to the area and won't stop putting pressure on the city to make sure bigger waves return in the future.

"We think it would be a major change for not only Long Beach, but all the way inland ... to turn this town from a wonderful ... artist town to a beach town with all the stuff that we already have," he said.