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Sand Project Funding Vote Due Tuesday

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Orange County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to approve spending $474,000 to help pay for a federal beach protection project for four communities, including Surfside.

“It looks like everything is falling into place,” said Eugene “Gino” Salegui, a Surfside resident who spent an anxious winter worrying that storms and high tides would erode the fragile beach and flood homes.

The county’s Environmental Management Agency has recommended approval of funding that will help pay for a $9.6-million sand replenishment project.

Supervisor Jim Silva, whose district includes the area, supports the concept, said a spokesman for Silva.

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“It’s an important project, especially for Surfside and for the other beaches affected,” said Ron Strom, Silva’s executive assistant.

Throughout the winter, residents such as Salegui had worried that storm-whipped waves and high tides would crash past a makeshift barrier and flood homes. The barrier, which includes 5,500 sandbags and 5-ton boulders, held firm, but officials said they were afraid the thin stretch of beach would not last another year.

Last year, funding was jeopardized by the county’s bankruptcy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers canceled the project, which was supposed to begin last October. The project, which rebuilds the beach every five years, began in the 1940s after the construction of a jetty for the neighboring Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station.

The jetty blocks the natural flow of sand that otherwise would replenish Surfside’s beach and protect homes that could flood.

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Surfside is considered a “feeder” beach. Sand deposited at Surfside travels south and helps replenish Sunset Beach, in unincorporated Orange County, Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington City Beach, Huntington State Beach and the shores of Newport Beach.

The corps of engineers has found the money for the $9.6-million sand replenishment project, said Norm Medland, a corps spokesman in Los Angeles. Beginning in September, the corps will dredge sand from an offshore site and deposit 1.6 million cubic yards at Surfside.

The project also calls for another 140,000 cubic yards of sand to be taken from an area south of the Santa Ana River to Newport beaches.

Under the project’s funding formula, the U.S. Corps of Engineers pays $6.4 million; California Department of Boating and Waterways, $1.6 million; state Department of Parks and Recreation, $784,000; Huntington Beach, $95,000, Newport Beach, $189,500; Surfside, $54,000; and Orange County, $474,000.

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Supervisors will vote on whether to pay the county’s share and release funds paid to the county by Surfside, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.


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