Mitigation Through Surf Enhancement/Chapter 1

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Mitigation Through Surf Enhancement
An Early History of Pratte's Reef
HomeAcknowledgementsAbstractIntroductionChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3ConclusionsAppendix AAppendix BBibliography
Note Note: This paper documents the background and theory behind an Artificial Surfing Reef (ASR) that was constructed in El Segundo, CA in 2000. Evaluation of the effects of this reef determined that it did not improve surfing conditions and has led to its removal, with phase one of the removal process beginning in 2008. For more information, see the article Pratte's Reef


Chapter 1

El Segundo: A case study in coastal management

Coastal Management in California

In a demographic and morphological sense the coastal zone is the most dynamic area of the United States. This could not be more true for California. More than 80 percent of the California's population lives within 30 miles of the coast, where two thirds of the state's economy is generated (DeGrove, 1984). This highly populated region boasts a beautiful and rugged coastal zone and some of the most expensive and desirable real estate in the country. However, development pressure in this region conflicts with its inherent geologic instability (Griggs & Savoy, 1985). Waves, wind, and storms that batter the coast to create a system where sand movement, cliff erosion and constant reshaping of the landscape are the norm. The growing population pressures have encouraged development right up to the sea's edge. Efforts to create long term development along the dynamic water-land interface have motivated an entire science of coastal stabilization. Unfortunately, the value of coastal property and development pressures often threaten the preservation of natural resources. Coastal development has motivated the damming of rivers that supply the beach with its precious sand, the construction of harbors, and engineering structures that alter the littoral flow of sand along the coast. In many cases this battle to stabilize this inherently dynamic zone has threatened the natural resources that make the coast desirable in the first place.

In response to booming population and coincident development pressures, California, like many coastal states, realized the need for management in the coastal zone. California has one of the largest and most heavily developed coasts in the nation. California's coast line stretches over 1,100 miles, equivalent to the distance from Boston, MA to Charleston, SC on the east coast of the United States. The 15 counties and 53 cities within the coastal zone have diverse management problems and equally diverse groups of citizens. The coastal zone is not only important to for habitation and the economy; California's coast line is also a mecca for recreation, boasts diverse ecosystems, natural resources and incredible beauty. Although California has experienced intense development since the 1930's, it was not until the late 1960's that it became obvious that a region so important to the state and the nation must be carefully managed to insure that the integrity of the coastal zone was maintained for future generations.

In the late 1960's coastal zone management in California began a decade long evolution. In 1965 the first permitting requirements for development were established in the San Francisco Bay area in response to development pressures that threatened the health of the Bay. In the early 1970's, through a frustrating three year legislative battle, the citizens of California initiated Proposition 20. Proposition 20, which established the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act of 1972, was considered a major victory for environmentalists. The four year program required formulation of a general coastal zone plan and included permitting regulations intended to curb unrestricted development along the coast. Later, through a more typical legislative process the California Coastal Act of 1976 (CCA) established a permanent Coastal Commission. (Fischer, 1985). [See Appendix B for a summary of the development of California's coastal policy.]

The primary goal of the CCA is to "assure orderly, balanced utilization and conservation of coastal zone resources" (CCA, §30001.5(b)). The California Coastal Commission has been charged with the authority to maintain this delicate balance. The Coastal Commission has exercised its exceptionally broad authority with unusual vigor. Its unique history has established a relationship between the Coastal Commission and the California public that has "[dramatically changed] the balance between private property rights and rights claimed for the public...Throughout its history the Coastal Commission has put unusual emphasis on public participation in its decision making processes, and on redistributive justice in its allocation of land use rights" (Healey, 1994). The El Segundo groin project provides an unusually telling case study to analyze the ability of the Coastal Commission to balance development pressure with the public property rights. This is an extraordinary case because it sets a precedent for treatment of offshore resources, such as the surf, and explores a unique mitigation effort; the creation of an artificial surfing reef designed to enhance degraded surf conditions.

El Segundo Groin Project

The winter of 1982-83 marked one of the strongest El Niño events in the last century. Associated with the meteorological anomaly was a winter of extreme storms that attacked the California coast with unusually intense wave activity. These storms provided surfers with the best winter of surf in recent memory, however, these same storms also caused extensive damage to California's coast (Dean, 1984, and personal observation). The large storm waves caused extensive erosion along the coast and left Chevron's El Segundo marine terminal and pipelines without a protective beach [See Figure 1.1].

Figure 1.1: Map of Santa Monica Bay. Inset, El Segundo Groin with potential reef site

In response to the erosion, Chevron proposed installing a 900 foot rock groin with a renourishment project to fill the area surrounding the groin with approximately 620,000 cubic feet of sand. Because the construction area included submerged lands, permitting authority was under state control and thus Chevron Corporation applied for a permit with the Coastal Commission in 1983. This type of hazard mitigation activity (construction of a groin), intended to interrupt the littoral flow of sand trapping the sand on the "upcoast" side of the groin, has historically been a common response to erosion problems in California (CCC, 1983). A more thorough discussion of littoral processes and anthropogenic effects will be addressed below. Some exploration of the permit (# 5-83-795) conditionally approved by the CCC for construction of the groin provides insight into the considerations typical for construction along the coast in California and sheds light on some unique aspects of this case study.

In order to protect both existing pipelines to offshore tanker berths and upland facilities from continued erosion due to scour and exposure to ocean waves, the CCC granted the conditional permit requiring (1) a monitoring program to evaluate the project's impact on sand supply, (2) evaluation of beach profile changes, (3) evaluation of effects on surfing conditions, (4) mitigation, through renourishment, of any adverse impacts on sand supply on down coast beaches, and (5) rebuilding of the County bike path across project site. The CCC, acting in accordance with the CCA, gave their conditional approval to the project for number of reasons. According to CCA Section 30233 and Section 30235 dredging and filling of open coastal waters and the construction of breakwaters and groins "shall be permitted when required to serve coastal-dependent uses...[CCC, 1983]". Because the refinery had been in its present location since the 1930's, it is considered a coastal dependent use and therefore Chevron has a right, according the CCA, for approval of the erosion protection project. In addition, the Coastal Commission based their approval on following findings of the Assessment and Atlas of Shoreline Erosion along the California Coast:

Los Angeles County is one of the most urbanized waterfront areas in the state; consequently, the shoreline has been, and continues to be most seriously affected by man's activities. Because the above cited major modifications to the shoreline, the condition of the shoreline is primarily under man's control. It's stability is more dependent upon man's activities than natures... Only by diking or periodic renourishment of the beaches has the shoreline been preserved in this area [CCC, 1983] [See Figure 1.2]
Figure 1.2: Map of Santa Monica Bay demonstrating the density of major coastal engineering structures

As is typical for a project of this magnitude, the CCC expressed concern about the project's impact on coastal resources as evidenced by the number of special conditions required for approval of the permit. These special conditions included monitoring of changes in sand supply and beach profiles and responsibility for mitigation of potential downcoast erosion as a result of the project [CCC, 1983].

The most interesting and consequential special condition was granted in response to opposition by the Western Surfing Association (WSA). Through the public hearing process required by the CCC for all permits, WSA, which soon merged with Surfrider Foundation, expressed concerns that the groin project had potential to destroy a relatively popular surfing spot in the area. WSA/Surfrider convinced the Coastal Commission that any loss to surfing in the area would result in over-crowding elsewhere, in other words surfing in El Segundo was an irreplaceable resource. Sections 30220 and 30221 of the CCA warrant special consideration of resources which provide recreation and are not adequately found in the surrounding area. Sections 30220 and 30221 also require that: "Coastal areas suited for water-oriented recreational activities that cannot readily be provided at inland water areas shall be protected for such use." and "Oceanfront land suitable for recreational use shall be protected for recreational use and development unless present and foreseeable future demand for public and commercial recreational activities that could be accommodated on the property is already adequately provided for in the area" (CCC, 1983). The Coastal Commission responded to this objection by including a special condition in the permit stating:

Effects on Surf Conditions. The overall monitoring shall include a program judging the project's impacts on the availability of surfing in the project area...The program shall evaluate impacts on surfing conditions for at least three years....At the conclusion of the surfing monitoring program, the applicants [Chevron] and the Executive Director shall examine the accumulated information to determine whether or not further mitigation should be required of the applicants to alleviate adverse impacts on surfing conditions that are directly and objectively attributable to the completed groin project (CCC, 1993).

With the above concerns recognized, Chevron was convinced that construction of the groin would not produce any negative impacts on the surrounding beaches or to the surfing conditions in the area. In fact several alternative erosion protection projects were investigated, including different groin designs, a renourishment program, sea walls, and even artificial surfing reefs. These alternatives were all rejected because they excessively degraded the environment or, in the case of the surfing reef, the technology was unproved. In addition, several coastal processes experts claimed that the groin would not negatively effect surfing and may actually improve surfing conditions (CCC, 1983). These claims were founded on a numerous locations were surfing is associated with groins and jetties. A good example of a surfing area enhanced by an engineering structure is the Wedge in Newport Beach, CA. Owing to wave reflection off the Newport Harbor jetty, waves at the Wedge double in height and provide a spectacular setting for body surfing. However, in most instances the surfing quality at the structure-dependent surfing areas was never evaluated prior to construction, so impacts to surfing are difficult to ascertain.

Chevron's decision to build the 900 foot groin was based on a fairly sound precedent of previous erosion protection projects. However, Chevron failed to acknowledge the risks associated with being challenged by Surfrider, especially in context of the "loose" language used in the special condition. This challenge created a situation where the impacts of the groin on nearshore processes and surfing conditions were investigated with focused scrutiny. It is doubtful that previous projects, which had set the precedent for the use of groins to alleviate erosion problems, were so thoroughly examined in context of an offshore resource such as the surf. This increase in scrutiny revealed that (1) the decisions that were made lacked adequate understanding of the onshore and offshore physical processes surrounding the groin, (2) they relied on precedent set by the construction of other groins, although none of these projects had been thoroughly investigated with respect to their impacts because previous projects had gone unchallenged, (3) the scientific rigor necessary to understand the impacts had not been required. The CCC permitted many projects based solely on industry biased legislation (coastal dependent section of CCA) without requiring independent studies on present conditions or future impacts. For these reasons the CCC usually considered only onshore processes, such as sand volume and beach width associated with the groin and neglected to properly consider the potential impact on offshore resources such as surfing waves.

The vague wording used by the CCC with regard to special condition that required monitoring the surf quality poses some interesting questions. The permit required mitigation only in the event that the groin/renourishment project "impacts on surfing conditions are directly and objectively attributable to the completed groin project" (CCC, 1983). This judgment was to be made by the Executive Director upon the evaluation of a three year monitoring program, yet no clear criteria was proposed for monitoring the surf or appropriate mitigation. When considering the lack of objective criteria available to describe surfing quality, it becomes obvious that such a task is difficult.

Wave height and shape are prone to personal interpretation and numerous techniques are employed to describe waves. The scientific community defines the wave height as the distance between the crest and the trough and uses a statistical method called spectral analysis to describe an entire climate of waves over a duration of time (Bascom, 1983). A quantifiable parameter to accurately describe wave shape still eludes scientists. In contrast, the surfing community typically uses two means of describing waves. One measure is the size of the face of a breaking wave either in feet or in reference to a surfer. A surfer may tell you, "The waves were shoulder high." Another measure is an arbitrary guess at the height of the back of the breaking wave, typically about half the height of the breaking face [See Figure 1.3]. This measurement system seems to vary regionally. Although the surfing community employs a large number of adjectives to describe waves, none would be considered a quantitative system of description. One can see how this wording and the complex nature of breaking waves made rigorous analysis of the surfing conditions difficult to ascertain.

This use of vague wording and the lack of rigorous criteria in the permit were interpreted differently by each group involved and influenced the outcome of the permit controversy. The permit language probably elevated Chevron's confidence that no recourse could be sought because quantitative results would be so difficult to obtain. Surfrider Foundation probably had mixed feelings about the way the special condition was worded. On one side the criterion required for mitigation would be difficult to prove.

Figure 1.3: Illustration of the different wave height measurements

On the other hand, because the decision was to be based on a decision of the CCC, effective lobbying and public pressure could persuade the CCC to give adequate consideration to potential negative effects. By using vague wording in the permit, the CCC left themselves in a precarious position. The CCC figured the potential for impact on surfing was slight. However, I believe they lacked a thorough understanding of how the project would effect surfing and therefore they wanted to leave room for interpretation in their decision making. Lacking a truly objective means of coming to a decision, the CCC put themselves in a position that necessitated careful conflict resolution (Oram and Valverde, 1994). Although Surfrider Foundation would probably have liked to prevent the groin from being built, they had at least forced Chevron to be liable for possible degradation of surfing conditions. At this point it appeared that the CCC has accomplished their goal. Through the permit process, which allows for public participation, the CCC issued a permit which equitably balanced the concerns for onshore coastal development with offshore environmental and recreational concerns.

With construction immanent, it was clear that Chevron's primary concern was the protection of their pipelines and upland facility. This motivated Chevron to argue that the groin would be low impact. Also, because similar projects had historically gone unchallenged, Chevron was probably confident that there would be no demonstrable threat to recreational surfing. The tone of the CCA, precedent from other projects and the expert testimony did not make a strong case for surf degradation. Historically, this level of consideration would have been thorough enough to satisfy most permit requirements, however Surfrider Foundation's objection increased the scrutiny with which the project was evaluated.

As described in the Special Condition (CDP No. 5-83-395), Chevron hired an independent contractor, Dr. Andrew Lissner, to monitor the surfing conditions in the project area for three years. Near the end of the three year period, the El Niño event of 1986 created another period of intense storms and wave action along the coast of California. These storm damaged the groin and forced Chevron to file for another permit to repair the groin. Once again the Surfrider Foundation and concerned citizens were present at the public hearings and once again they convinced the Coastal Commission to include another special condition. Special Condition (5-86-395) was very similar to the first special condition and it extended the monitoring period for another three years and included investigation of potential surfing hazards caused by storm damage to the groin. Because no specific guidelines were established to document changes in the wave conditions, the methodology was at the discretion of Dr. Lissner. Lissner headed the monitoring for the two three year periods. He documented wave conditions by visual observation from shore and by plane and took census recordings of the numbers of surfers using specific breaks in the vicinity of the project. Dr. Lissner also conducted interviews with "local" surfers who had extensive experience surfing in the region. Observations were made monthly with a larger study, including interviews, completed quarterly. It was opinions expressed by this "panel of experts" that had a major impact on the review of the permit by the Executive Director (CCC, 1993). These reports have become known as the Lissner Reports (Lissner, 1984 - 1989). In 1989, with the monitoring period complete, the Lissner reports clearly stated that the surf has continuously degraded since the 1986 storm:

The results form the previous (1983-1987) quarterly surf monitoring surveys indicated that the surf quality in the project region was reduced significantly from the old El Segundo groin south to new the Chevron groin as a result of the original groin project. In contrast, surf associated with the Chevron groin was generally very good until it was decreased significantly by the result of storm damage in winter 1986. This reduction in quality was associated with smaller size and poorer [sic] shape, and a corresponding reduction in the number of surfers using the project region.... The reduced quality between the old [Grand Avenue] and the new [Chevron] groins is due to a steeper beach slope which resulted in poor surf shape associated with near shore breakers; this condition has persisted from 1983 to this date and has not shown any indication of improvement during this period (Lissner, 1989).

With this report complete, Chevron and Surfrider Foundation were given an opportunity to file reports with the Coastal Commission as part of the public comment incorporated into all permit decisions. Surfrider Foundation drafted a report based on a summary of the Lissner reports and completed another set of interviews to support the claim that the surf had degraded. In contrast, Chevron hired Noble Consults because "Chevron has raised a concern of the accuracy of such perceptions [use of visual observations and interviews] in the absence of more quantitative analysis. Through consultation with the California Coastal Commission, this study [Noble's ] has been authorized by Chevron to further a more quantitative oceanographical [sic] assessment of the ESMT [groin] project effects on surfing" (Noble, 1992). Through the use of hindcast analysis and analysis of the local physical processes, Noble claimed that surf conditions have been variable over the last 20 years with low surf conditions evident from 1988 through 1990. They also stated that because Santa Monica Bay has experienced intense development, including alteration of the coast via engineering structures variable, conditions were to be expected (Noble, 1992). These conclusions were intended to demonstrate that the six years of evaluation was not enough to prove that the surf had degraded because periods of natural variation or Santa Monica Bay-wide anthropogenic effects may have cycles on the same time scale.

Because no guidelines to evaluate surf conditions had been established, it was difficult to quantify how or if the surfing conditions had been impacted. Although there is an extensive research history on wave transformation in the surf zone, these studies do not address wave characteristics that are important to surfing quality. For this reason, the Lissner reports are an excellent example of use of social science to compensate for the lack of natural scientific data in an effort to quantify an impact on a region. The degradation on surf quality affects a group of expert users (the surfers) and therefore their opinion is an important aspect of the evaluation. Because nearshore morphodynamics are so dynamic and difficult to accurately measure and scientific evaluation of surf qualify is not an established field, Noble Consultants had difficulty quantifying surf degradation based purely on the physical conditions of the region. This circumstance demonstrates an extremely important lesson in the evaluation of resource damage and mitigation: physical science may not always be an effective or appropriate means of evaluation. This case demonstrates that the use of quantifiable social science can be equally effective in demonstrating resource damage.

It was during this six years of monitoring that the tensions between groups reached their peak with each group attempting to promote their stance on the issue before the decision was to be made by the Commission [Kremer, personal communication]. Chevron, in an effort to avoid the costs of mitigation, was motivated to prove that surf quality had not degraded and, even if it had, that the effects could not be "directly" and "objectively" attributed to the construction of the groin. Surfrider Foundation, determined to put a stop to the continued sacrifice of surfing areas in California, was determined to set a precedent: protection of surfing areas as a natural resource and recreational area. It was important to Surfrider Foundation to establish surfing as a legitimate recreation and environmental use of a natural resource. In addition, Surfrider wanted direct compensation for the lost resource. The Coastal Commission found themselves in a controversial situation. The use vague language in the special condition forced them to rely on the Lissner reports and the final comments of Chevron and Surfrider Foundation to determine if the Chevron project warranted mitigation.

Lissner's concluding report found that the quality of the surf had continued to deteriorate since the storm damage in 1986, and that there was no indication that the surf quality would improve (Lissner, 1989). After years of debate as to whether the "impacts on surfing conditions [were] directly and objectively attributable to the completed groin project", the Commission determined, based on the above reports, that the results warranted mitigation by Chevron. This decision set off fierce disagreements concerning appropriate mitigation for the lost surf. Chevron felt that their construction of a bike path, life guarding, and maintenance of 2,000 linear feet of beach was appropriate mitigation for the lost surf (Oram & Valverde, 1994). The Coastal Commission thought differently and required Chevron to create a map of surf hazards throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties. However, the Surfrider Foundation and other constituents did not believe that this was adequate compensation for the destruction of the surfing area that local community members considered a valuable resource. Surfrider used an economic argument to support their claim that adequate mitigation would be $300,000 for the creation of an artificial reef. In comparison to revenues of a nearby water park, Surfrider estimated that the lost surf resulted in damages worth $244,000 to local surfers (Oram and Valverde, 1994). Through continued negotiation and a strong presence on the part of the Surfrider Foundation, it was determined that Chevron was to be responsible for a surfing enhancement project that would attempt to restore a surf break in the project area by creating an artificial reef. The project was to be a cooperative effort between Chevron, the Coastal Commission, and the Surfrider Foundation. Through careful and equitable conflict resolution on the part of the CCC, a mitigation settlement and cooperative effort was agreed upon. Despite criticism that the CCA is biased towards development and that more precise permitting language would speed the resolution process (Oram and Valverde, 1994), this case demonstrates that the Coastal Commission has been given adequate authority and flexibility to regulate coastal development and reach an equitable resolution. It also proves that the public participation aids equal representation from a broad range of constituents on concerns over coastal development.

To meet the goals of all three parties, Surfrider Foundation has agreed to dedicate time and expertise to support the artificial reef project, Chevron has agreed to fund the project up to $300,000 but will not act as a "deep pocket", and the Coastal Commission will oversee the permitting procedure and ensure that the surfing reef is not detrimental to the environment (Ewing, 1995). Chevron has provided $100,000 for preliminary investigations of a surf enhancement reef, including planning design, and permitting. This money is to be held and distributed by the Coastal Conservancy.

Through a proposal process, Skelley Engineering has been selected as the consulting engineer for the project, responsible for designing, constructing, permitting, and monitoring the reef. At this time the reef project is in the preliminary design process. The goal of permitting the project now lies in the hands of the triumvirate. The unique submerged structure will require careful scrutiny as evidenced by the number of permits required for the project. At the minimum, approval must be received by: the City of El Segundo via their LCP, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Coast Guard, National Marine Fisheries Service and California Department of Fish and Game. Once these permits have been granted, final approval must be sought from the Coastal Commission. It has already been established by the Coastal Commission that the project must be monitored for 3 to 5 years and the reef must be removable. In the event that the monitoring results demonstrate that the reef is having a negative impact on the region the reef will be removed. Once the design has been permitted and accepted by the Coastal Commission, Chevron will provide an additional $200,000 for construction, monitoring, and potential removal. In the event that the project exceeds this budget the Surfrider Foundation will be responsible for raising the necessary money.

This attempt to restore and enhance a surfing resource is important for a number of reasons, (1) it marks a landmark collaboration between a non-profit organization (Surfrider Foundation), a business interest (Chevron Corporation) and a state regulatory agency (Coastal Commission), (2) a mitigation project to enhance a surfing area by construction of an artificial reef has never been attempted, (3) careful consideration must be taken because this mitigation effort may serve as a prototype for future erosion prevention/enhancement projects, and (4) this case may set a precedent on the way surf is treated in the context of a natural resource.

This case has revealed deficiencies in the permit process, namely that decisions are made which may lack the necessary scientific understanding to accurately balance conservation and development interests. There are three primary reasons for this deficiency. Under the current permit structure, the permit applicant is responsible for the studies that evaluate construction alternatives. In the El Segundo case, Chevron may have designed their studies to justify the least costly and most convenient solution, with little or no regard to environmental damage or lost resources and recreational opportunity. Until a system is incorporated that provides independent fact finding ability there will be no assurance that the necessary scientific and social information has been evaluated in the decision making process. Second, the California Coastal Act is biased towards "coastal dependent" interests, which gives a greater priority to Chevron's refinery than to surfing (Oram and Valverde, 1994). Third, the CCC must take a more integrated approach to evaluating projects in the coastal zone, pushing the zone of consideration offshore to include offshore resources such as the surf and non-endangered inter-tidal aquatic life.

Despite the above criticism, there are two reasons why the El Segundo case was resolved in such agreeable terms. The Coastal Commission, by encouraging public participation, allows for groups like Surfrider Foundation equal forum to oppose permit applications. This systems acts as a check in the permit procedure and allows for concerned groups to investigate the impacts independently and dispute permit requirements. It was through this system that Surfrider was effective in holding Chevron responsible for the quality of the surf. Although the public participation process is a highly valued component of California's coastal zone management program, it does not adequately compensate for the lack of independent study of permit impact. Not all cases with adverse environmental impacts will seize the attention of environmental watch dogs capable of challenging the permit. As demonstrated by the El Segundo case, the opposition to the permit by Surfrider Foundation did not prevent construction of the groin, which may have been the most desirable outcome.

Second, although the Coastal Commission has been criticized for its use of vague language in permit applications (discussed above and by Oram and Valverde, 1995), I contend that it is this flexibility, in conjunction the CCC's authority, that has lead to equitable decision making. This is demonstrated by the El Segundo case. Because the degradation of the surf lacks quantitative evidence, it was the flexibility in the permit language and the resourcefulness of Andrew Lissner that lead to an equitable decision. This flexibility also granted the CCC room to negotiate terms for mitigation that left all partied satisfied (Ewing, 1995).

Although this case appears to successfully set precedent to protect surf and push management considerations offshore, the outcome of the management decisions for El Segundo still lack complete resolution. The Coastal Commission, in an attempt to balance public and private property rights, has awarded Surfrider Foundation with a mitigation project to enhance the surf with the hope of restoring the surf to pre-project quality. The Coastal Commission's decision-making process cannot be completely evaluated until the success of the reef is established. If the artificial reef enhances the surf and re-establishes quality surfing near the groin, then the Coastal Commissions management decisions will be considered equitable. In this case, the Coastal Commission will have allowed Chevron to protect their property while ensuring that the surfing conditions in the area are maintained. However, if the reef fails reestablish pre-project surfing conditions, the Coastal Commission's management decisions may be considered a failure. (No criterion has been establish for judgment of the reef's performance.) In this case, the Coastal Commission will appear to have sided with Chevron by allowing construction of the groin and charging them with a petty fine ($300,00) for unfeasible mitigation. An alternate conclusion would be that because the Coastal Commission has already allowed construction of the groin, demonstrating their industry bias, and any enhancement of the surf should be credited to Surfrider Foundation and Skelley Engineering and not to the Coastal Commission. The balance of the Coastal Commission's management resolution between resource use and conservation is hinged on the success or failure of the artificial surfing reef.

In order to predict some potential outcomes of this case, investigation of local nearshore processes and engineering projects is hoped provide some insight into the current scientific understanding that may be applied to such management considerations. Examples demonstrate some mistakes in coastal management planning that result from a lack of rigorous forethought and some weaknesses the current level of understanding in nearshore sedimentary processes. In addition, a modeling exercise is performed to investigate the surf enhancement potential of the proposed artificial reef. A better understanding of the physical processes in the nearshore and some prediction of wave response of the artificial reef will provide a means of evaluating the Coastal Commission's management role before the reef is constructed.