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Laguna Beach plans to repair overflowing flood channel

Laguna Beach plans to repair overflowing flood channel
A member of the OC Public Works team looks for damage along part of the Laguna Canyon flood channel heavily damaged in the Feb. 14 storm. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

During every major storm, one Laguna Beach roadway gets it the worst: Beach Street.

Stormwater moving through the Laguna Canyon Flood Channel regularly splashes up and over the retaining walls, running into Beach between Ocean Avenue and Broadway Street.

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That problem should dry up by next summer, following a Planning Commission decision Wednesday night to reconstruct parts of the flood channel so water runs straight through downtown, letting out at Main Beach.

The city also plans to build a higher wall fencing off the Beach Street transition to better contain the water. Right now, the flood channel narrows at the transition, so water traveling downstream splashes into the street when it reaches the transition entrance.

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Commissioners approved the repair project, but city staff will return with plans depicting the wall’s aesthetic design.

“I really feel it’s important … that we have an integrated design team of engineers and artists, that we’re not just building a parapet wall and slapping some art on it,” said Commissioner Susan Whitin. “It could be a lot more than that.”

Plans also include removing and replacing the flood channel outlet at Main Beach.

“[It] is beyond repair,” said Tom Perez, the city’s project manager.

The work at Main Beach will close part of the boardwalk and reroute pedestrians to the Coast Highway sidewalk.

Perez said the city still needs a coastal development permit, but he hopes to begin the work at Main Beach in September.

The final phase involves involves repairing cracks or rusted areas along the flood channel wall.

Commissioners emphasized the repair project may not prevent flooding during a major storm event.

“We’re putting a Band-Aid on a bigger-picture situation,” Commissioner Jorg Dubin said.

The entire repair project should take no more than six months, Perez said.

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