Saying that the improvements will mean better boating safety and less beach erosion, the Navy on Monday night will unveil to the City Council a proposal to change the entrance to Anaheim Bay by 1997.
The bay, which is between Seal Beach and Huntington Harbour, is the waterway used for Navy ships to load and unload ammunition at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. Private boats, including those docked at Huntington Harbour, also use Anaheim Bay.
The Navy is proposing to add a $150-million extension to the east jetty protecting the bay, which would give private boats a separate bay entrance.
The Navy emphasized that its proposal is only in the talking stage so far. But the concept has already drawn opposition from one homeowners' group, Surfside Colony. A spokesman for the group said Friday that the Navy's proposal would ruin the oceanfront by making it more like a protected bay.
However, an official with the Orange County Harbor, Beaches and Parks Department said that he has studied the Navy's plans and found them to be beneficial.
"These plans have a lot of value in that they improve access to the harbor
(Anaheim Bay) by private vessels," said Larry Paul, manager of coastal facilities for the department, which is part of the county's Environmental Management Agency.
Paul said he agreed with the Navy's contention that new jetties would slow down beach erosion in the Sunset and Surfside areas.
The battleship New Jersey was among the vessels that visited the waters off Anaheim Bay on Friday. The New Jersey's ammunition was unloaded in preparation for the vessel's decommissioning in Long Beach, but the ship could not safely go inside the present east and west jetties, according to Navy officials.
For occasions such as the New Jersey's unloading, the station needs a wharf farther out from land than the existing one, said Navy officials, who added that the new jetty plan would provide such a wharf.
Tad Nizinski, a civilian coastal engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, said he could not predict what impact the Navy's proposed changes would have on the bay.
"What this could do is hard to answer without making studies with physical models," he said. "This could either slow the (beach) erosion, (or) it could move the erosion further down (to Bolsa Chica State Beach), or it may help altogether. We don't know."
Navy Capt. Stephen T. Holl, commanding officer of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, will present the bay-jetty proposals to the Seal Beach City Council on Monday night.
In a statement Friday, Holl said the plan has benefits both for the Navy and local communities.
"First, a pleasure craft will have direct access to Huntington Harbour--a benefit for boaters and Navy security," Holl said. "Second, the jetty extension will act as a barrier against beach erosion in the Sunset and Surfside beach areas, and it will offer limited storm protection. Finally, as dredging is completed, there will be a one-time sand 'dividend,' which can be used to beef up the beaches in Sunset and Surfside."
Tom Thomas, a spokesman for the Navy's weapons station, said the proposed changes to the bay and the jetty would allow easier access for newer, bigger Navy ships. The existing harbor was designed in the World War II era.
Thomas said the proposals would enable the Navy "to handle faster the loading and unloading of ships that currently are anchored at buoys several miles from the Anaheim Bay wharf."
Those ships have to be unloaded outside the harbor, Thomas said, because they are too big for the existing wharf facilities.
The Navy's plans call for building two new wharf areas. Both would be on a reconstructed east jetty. The outermost new wharf would be an L-shaped arm. The new inner wharf would be on a jetty inside the existing harbor.
Thomas noted that the plans call for cutting an opening through the existing east jetty. That cut, coupled with dredging away a finger of land inside the harbor, would provide the new entrance to the bay for private boats, he said.
Bob Kendrick, president of Surfside Colony, a homeowners' association with about 260 members, criticized the Navy's proposal. Kendrick said the area's beach erosion problems stem from the Navy's original construction of jetties about 50 years ago.
"The community overwhelmingly wants to let the Navy know that we don't want any further development," Kendrick said.
He said the jetty changes would make a protected bay of the oceanfront area.
"There would be no more surf," Kendrick said. "It wouldn't be a beach, it would be a bay, and the visual impact . . . would be serious. We didn't buy properties here to live on a bay."
Kendrick said the Surfrider Foundation, a private environmental group, will also oppose the Navy's proposed changes.
Thomas, the Navy's spokesman, conceded that building a longer jetty "would mean less surf for some surfers" in the immediate area.
But, he said, the proposal would greatly improve safety by allowing private boats a quicker, easier access to Huntington Harbour, without mingling with Navy craft in Anaheim Bay.
Thomas said the plans call for construction to start in 1993, with completion by 1997. The construction would be in three phases; the final, L-shaped outer wharf would not be built until the last phase.
Thomas said the proposal "will undergo scrutiny at Navy headquarters in Washington before being submitted to Congress for funding."