Monday, November 22, 2010

Property rights don't outweigh public's right to enjoy beaches -Editorial

The Wilmington Star-News came out with a great editorial piece this weekend supporting the long-standing ban on hardened shoreline structures.

"...structures don’t solve the problem; more often than not they shift erosion to another part of the beach."

"But during the decades-long coastal building boom, developers and landowners fought to be able to build in places coastal experts warned were erosion-prone. If it was vacant, someone pushed to build there, or to build closer to the water."

"Ideally, the ban should remain intact, for our beaches’ sake.

But if it is to be breached, as now seems is possible, the public must loudly remind the Honorables that the beaches belong to all state residents, not just a fortunate few with a spectacular view."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lawyers Screw their Clients out of Sand

State calls off big Galveston beach project

Last week the TX Supreme Court took some of the teeth out of the Open Beaches Act, ruling that properties that suffer erosion from storms can't be ceded to the public, as was previously the case. The TX General Land Office (GLO), who manages public shorelines, decided that this ruling means the state can't go forward with a large Beach Fill project because it would now benefit private property. Of course the project would have benefited the very people who brought the original case.

"It's kind of ironic that the Pacific Legal Foundation, who supposedly is on the side of property owners, has just screwed the property owners who were going to have a direct benefit from the renourished beaches," Patterson said. He said that without the project, the rapidly eroding beach will put some of those houses in the Gulf of Mexico much faster.

So much for unintended consequences.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

San Diego Gets More Than Sand

Beachfill projects can go wrong anywhere and we should be able to learn from them regardless of their location. I don’t want this blog to only be about projects gone bad in NJ. So, from my friends on the West Coast…

Mission Bay in San Diego was to be dredged for navigation and the material was to be used as fill on a local beach. But the project met with an unexpected, unknown element. Namely, the stuff on the bottom of the Bay! Everything from old tires to event older beer cans were being sucked off the bottom of the bay and onto the beach.

See the full slide show here in case you forgot what the Bud Light logo looked like ten years ago, what the Coors logo looked like 20 years ago, and what the Pepsi logo looked like 30 years ago.

It gets worse, when confronted with the “objects” appearing in the sand, the Army Corps and the contractor guaranteed local elected officials that a person would monitor the slurry coming out of the pipe. According to this article, that didn’t work out so well.

But anyone who has seen these pipes gushing the sand and water slurry would know there is no grabbing beer cans or whatever out of them while in progress.

A small collection of items found in with the beachfill.

More media on this issue.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Weather Channel on Beachfill

This is a big complex issue and two minute attempts to convey it to the public often fall short. However, I think the Weather Channel did a really good job here for such a short segment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Neighbor Against Neighbor on Long Beach Island

Long Beach Township, NJ, on Long Beach Island, has posted the names of property owners that have not signed their easements to relinquish their property allowing the replenishment project to go forward. Unfortunately, the Township did not learn from the Borough of Harvey Cedars, also on Long Beach Island, where neighbor was pitted against neighbor and things got ugly. A "Mob Rules" mentality took over the pro-replenishment crowd and it got to the point that non-easement signers were afraid to go out to the store.

See the website

The list of homeowners is not buried somewhere on the site. It is right on the homepage, under the smiling picture of the Mayor.

This news story mentions residents sitting down and "talking" to these holdouts in the near future. I am not hopeful that will go smoothly. More here

The truth is there are hundreds of people in Long Beach Township who have not signed their easements, but the town is focusing on these few because they plan to replenish a small section of town first. In fact the NJ DEP changed their beach access rule in 2007 specifically for Long Beach Township which has four non-contiguous sections of town on one island. Instead of requiring signed easements for the whole town before a beachfill was possible, the state decided a string of signed easements in a given section was enough for replenishment in that section.

Without attending the meeting I can tell you what they are going to talk about. Here are people's main problems with the easements.
1) They are permanent.
2) They are assignable
3) They make you give up the rights to part of your property but you still pay taxes on it and you still have liability on it.

What's sad is that despite everything you've heard, there is no written requirement by the Army Corps to obtain permanent easements. Temporary ones have been used before in other Army Corps projects. Saddest of all is that the whole project could have been configured so that easement were not necessary or they were easily obtained.

Friday, August 20, 2010

NJ Gov's Plan - Make Taxpayers Pay Twice

NJ Governor Christie wants the taxpayers of NJ to pay twice. NJ taxpayers (and every taxpayer in the country for that matter) have already paid to build a beach and protective dunes in Atlantic City. These dunes protect the pubic infrastructure of the boardwalk, and the private property landward of it. But Christie's DEP wants to lower the dunes so people can see the ocean. That's when you'll pay twice. When the ocean over-tops these dunes in a storm, your tax dollars are going to clean up the mess. The Press of Atlantic City covered the effort to lower the dunes today, complete with secret meeting between DEP officials and local legislators.

This author lives in a town where dunes block the ocean view from much of the boardwalk. Our dunes were built by the town, at the town's expense. They were not built by the Army Corps when tens of millions of dollars were spent filling our beaches. Go figure. We've lost much of our view, and yes crazy people want to lower the dunes and get the view back. Those people did not live here in 1992 when the December Nor'Easter destroyed the boardwalk. Not damaged: destroyed. There were no dunes.

I'd love to be able to see the ocean as a drove down Ocean Ave here. I can't. I'd love to be able to see the waves as I drove down Highway 12 in the Outer Banks. I can't. But don't lower those dunes for my view. I know they provide something far more valuable than a view.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beachfill Meets Beach Access...Again

The NJ DEP is planning to overhaul the current beach access rules in a way that makes beach replenishment a much greater possibility in many places. Proposed rule here. Let’s be frank, much of the Jersey Shore is easily accessible. But there are a handful of towns that purposefully limit access and another small group of towns where access is limited by geography or the way the town was laid out. In either case, access could be improved especially if the towns got something they really wanted out of it. That something is beach replenishment money.

At least that is how it worked the last time the beach access rules were overhauled – just a few years ago. The rules declared that access meant more than just a path to the beach; it meant parking, it meant some amenities like bathrooms. The current rules set specific standards for these things and allowed flexibility and exceptions to all of them. Best of all they tied these standards to state beach replenishment funding. So towns that really did not want outsiders on their beach and that really did not want to add parking places could keep the status quo. They just weren’t going to get public beachfill money. And towns that desperately wanted the beachfill money but had to take down a few “No Parking” signs and ask the local Wawa to provide a public restroom in order to get it had good motivation to do so. It seemed fair enough.

Of course there was a lawsuit (more on that later) and an election.

The rules proposed by Chris Christie’s DEP do not couple beach replenishment funds and beach access. The proposed rule on beach entryways for example would revert to the US Army Corps of Engineers standard which is one every half mile. The current standard is one every quarter mile (with exceptions where not practicable.)

The current rule has towns adopt ordinances declaring public beach access points as conservation easements. The proposed rule asks the town to submit a Public Access Plan, which is voluntary. There is no penalty to the town if they do not. There is no penalty to the town if the plan they submit has no real public access, and worst of all, by eliminating all the standards for access, DEP will have no power to compel them to alter their Public Access Plan.

Towns that don't meet the current standard of an access point every 1/4 mile, but do meet the Army Corps' standard of an access point every 1/2 mile are essentially getting the green light for beach replenishment soon.

However, this is not a done deal folks. The public comment period is coming. Stay tuned for how to speak your mind.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Missing - 3 Year Old...Beachfill

Missing: Three to four year-old beachfill.
Missing From: Surf City, NJ.
Missing Since: Winter 2010.
Features: Light, sand-colored
Distinguishing Marks: Unexploded ordnance
Last Seen: Possibly traveling south during one of the many Nor'Easters this winter.

Traveling With: Typically associates with Members of Congress and large amounts of taxpayer money.

If you see this sand, please call the Army Corps at 215-656-6515.

This picture above is not of a badly eroded beach that desperately needs beach replenishment. It is a picture of a beach that was replenished just a short time ago in the winter of 2006-2007 at a cost of roughly $5 Million. They dredged up unexploded ordnance (bombs and fuses) with it, and the cleanup cost about $25 million.
More from the Press of Atlantic City.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

LA Times: Southern California beach erosion is worst in a decade,0,2223726.story

...In January and February, powerful swells, high tides and strong winds swept away tons of sand from the coastline, stealing as much as 30 to 40 feet of beachfront at some locations.

In the month or two since the El NiƱo-driven storms, coastal communities -- Laguna Beach, Malibu and Manhattan Beach among them -- have worked to patch the damage by making repairs and trucking in fresh sand, but some worry whether nature will return the sand as it has in the past.

The sand loss is a familiar phenomenon.

Shifting sand is part of a natural cycle that happens each year. Each spring, potent storm surges pull sand from the beaches out to sea. Over the summer, gentler waves gradually push it back ashore.

Periodically, beach cities throughout Southern California try to make up for the so-called sand deficit by pumping the material in from offshore.

Global warming and sea rise are contributing to the deterioration of beaches in the long term, scientists say, but those forces are not to blame for this spring's dramatic changes.

It's the exceptional level of damage this year that has been cause for alarm.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beach Fill: Fleecing of America

An interesting piece on NBC about beach fill (nourishment). Be sure to let the second video load, as it contains some extra raw video from the interviews. I particularly like (or dislike) Harry Simmons' (president of ASBPA)quote: "Retreat is unamerican" apparently he thinks we're at war with the ocean.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

DIY Dunes in Long Beach Township, NJ

Long Beach Township, NJ passed an ordinance recently requiring oceanfront homeowners to repair damaged dunes like these if they are on private oceanfront property. But there is a catch. If you signed the construction easement for the beach replenishment project, the town will fix the dune damage themselves, as they always have.

The unanswered question is will these Do-It-Yourself homeowners have to get permits from the state DEP to legally enter and manipulate the dunes? Oceanfront homeowners typically wait 5 months for a CAFRA permit when doing any work on their homes. The new ordinance says the work needs to be done in 15 days. Hmmm.

Imagine 25 homeowners all hiring different contractors wielding bulldozers in a mad rush to fix their dunes in two weeks. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

More here

Friday, January 15, 2010

Beachfill and Eminent Domain - Perfect together

Would you give up this piece of property voluntarily, without compensation?

Things are getting ugly on Long Beach Island New Jersey where in order to do a beach replenishment project, the Army Corps requires a construction easement to do the work. Sounds simple enough, but there are a few catches. The State of NJ has asked all oceanfront property owners on LBI for a permanent easement. This easement would take away ownership, but the homeowner would still have liability and the homeowner would still have to pay taxes on the property. Furthermore, the easement wold be transferable meaning an entity that may not even exist today may someday own this easement (Boardwalk Authority anyone?).

Understandably, a lot of people won't sign these easements. One town, Long Beach Township is taking drastic measures and introducing an ordinance that would take the property via eminent domain. It is all sad and unnecessary considering similar projects in North Carolina asked homeowners for temporary easements.

January 13, 2010

Beach easement holdouts to pay — one way or the other

Staff Writer

LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — In the continuing fight to acquire the easements needed for the federally-funded beach replenishment project, the township is aiming to make homeowners who have not signed over the easements pay for repairs to the beaches in front of their homes by toughening an existing ordinance adopted in the 1970s.

The ordinance calls for all beachfront homeowners to be responsible for the maintenance of the dunes in front of their homes and if not completed within 15 days, the township will do the work and then bill them.

"If they are not going to allow the state and Army Corps to have access to the property, then they are not going to allow us," said Mayor Joseph Mancini. "A similar ordinance has been on the books for 39 years and we are now cleaning it up."

Mancini said by the not signing over their easement, the homeowner also is denying the township the right to fix any erosion issues that come up.

"If they don't sign the easement and their porch is hanging off into the ocean, they have not granted us access to the property and it's their responsibility to get it fixed," Mancini said.

The proposed changes to the ordinance come on the heels of the township officials saying they would go as far as using eminent domain to acquire the needed easements.

Under the proposed plan, Long Beach Township would get three appraisers to determine the value of a property, and then the township would move on with the eminent domain process from there, Mancini said. He said he hopes to have the ordinance introduced in the coming weeks.

The township needs to acquire the easements for the beach replenishment project. The Army Corps of Engineers will not start any work until all of the easements have been signed over. The corps currently is overseeing the project in neighboring Harvey Cedars.

The aim of the replenishment project is to increase the size of both the beach and the dunes.

Township Attorney Richard Shackleton said the ordinance is similar to one that was adopted in Surf City.

"If they are not going to give the Corps access, then they are not giving us access," Shackleton said.

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for 4 p.m. Jan. 22 at the municipal building, 6805 Long Beach Blvd.