Urban Waterfront Restoration Gains a Forum

What is happening on our waterfronts?

"California WaterfrontAge" is a new quarterly magazine that seeks to answer that question. That is significant because it fills a void as a "a source that both describes and evaluates the multitude of changes occuring along California's richly diverse shores."

The preceding quotation is taken from the introduction to the magazine published by the California State Coastal Conservancy in association with the San Francisco Bay Chapter, Oceanic Society. It is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Office of Coastal Resource Management.

The magazine's editor, Joseph E. Petrillo, believes that industrial and commercial uses of city waterfronts are giving way to recreational and living environments.

That is true in Newport Beach, Dana Point and Huntington Harbor. It also is the case in the Bolsa Chica wetlands where a marina and residential development is planned. Upper Newport Bay has planned a public kayak and canoe center for instruction and training. Naming it the Newport Aquatic Center, the developers propose an 18,228-square-foot center at North Star Beach on public tidelands. The project has been approved in principle by the California Coastal Commission, which must still approve plans for a dock at the facility.

The aquatic center, I think, is compatible with the wetlands environment. The Bolsa Chica development can be made compatible but is vastly more complex and potentially destructive than the aquatic center.

I can only speculate that these developments signal a change in the Coastal Commission's narrow vision of tidelands use. The primary purpose of the original commission was not only to develop a scheme of permanent coastal protection, but also force wide public access. That combination was not necessarily possible.

Changes have been made. The state legislature remodeled the commission's objectives into the 1976 Coastal Act, which now governs coastal development. It appears that the wetlands policy will be undergoing cautious development, with, I trust, minimal damage to the tidal ecosystem.

Also strengthening multi-use of the coastal region is the Urban Waterfront Restoration Act of 1981, which states urban waterfronts are "often the first part of an urban area to develop and, thus, the first to decay, are in need of restoration."

Petrillo supports the efforts of the State Coastal Conservancy, which coordinates efforts to restore urban waterfronts.

The conservancy and the new California Urban Waterfront Area Restoration Financing Authority have been authorized to provide $650 million in revenue bonds for the restoration of California's urban waterfronts.

All this development provides a foundation for a magazine that promises "to stimulate ideas by providing a sophisticated discussion of waterfront development and the issues surrounding it."

The magazine may be obtained by writing to California WaterfrontAge, Fort Mason Center, Bldg. E, San Francisco, 94123.

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