Broad Beach Residents Sued Over Beach Restoration Project

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The Broad Beach restoration plan, officially known as a “beach nourishment project,” is designed to replace sand after a dramatic shrinking of the beach due to erosion since 2008. The beach will then be opened back up for public access.

Putting their money where their mouth is, the City of Fillmore and County of Ventura served the City of Moorpark and the Broad Beach Geologic Hazard Abatement District (GHAD) a much-awaited lawsuit on Friday demanding the Malibu group come up with a new truck route to transport the over one million cubic yards of sand needed to replenish the depleted Broad Beach in Malibu, or else find a new source for the sand.

The suit was first threatened in late February after Fillmore officials discovered that a signed agreement would route truck trips — estimated by plaintiffs to number 400,000 over a 20-year period — through Fillmore to avoid going through Moorpark’s neighborhoods.

The route would, instead of taking trucks down Route 23 and directly into Malibu, have trucks go up Route 23 to Route 126 through Fillmore and into the cities of Ventura and Oxnard before taking Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. Route 23, which in Malibu becomes Decker Canyon, is notably not a truck route.

“Neither Moorpark nor [the Broad Beach GHAD] consulted with [Ventura] County or Fillmore regarding the Traffic Regulation Agreement or informed [Ventura] County or Fillmore of its existence until after it was executed,” the suit alleged.

The agreement was signed in October, according to the lawsuit, days before the California Coastal Commission (CCC) gave a final OK to the project.

“The real issue for us [is] not the fact that they need to have sand, it’s the fact that the Broad Beach group put together a plan that said, ‘No trucks through Moorpark’ — essentially all trucks through Fillmore,” Fillmore City Manager Dave Rowlands told The Malibu Times in March.

The Broad Beach replenishment plan, officially known as a “beach nourishment project,” is designed to replace sand after a dramatic shrinking of the beach due to erosion since 2008. The beach will then be opened back up for public access.

The GHAD, a group made up of 121 Malibu property owners, has committed $31 million to the project that earned CCC approval in a narrow 7-5 vote back in October. The first part of the project calls for replenishment of 600,000 cubic yards of sand, with 450,000 cubic yards 10 years later and “periodic backpassing no more than once per year and periodic interim nourishments of up to 75,000 cubic yards of sand between major nourishment efforts,” according to the approved project description in the October 2015 CCC agenda. 

Perhaps the most damning argument made by plaintiffs is an alleged violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which they say was made when Moorpark and the Broad Beach GHAD approved a plan that “would, on information and belief, add an average of 14 miles to each truck trip, resulting in approximately 5,270,000 additional vehicle miles traveled ovcr thc 20-year Beach Restoration Project,” according to the suit. 

“Use of this circuitous route would, on information and belief, cause the emission of approximately 100,000 additional pounds of criteria pollutants, and thousands of additional pounds of greenhouse gasses, compared to use of the direct lawful haul route through Moorpark that is expressly prohibited by the Traffic Regulation Agreement,” the suit read.

According to Broad Beach GHAD attorney Ken Ehrlich, the group is working to resolve the conflict while also continuing to search for another sand source.

“The GHAD is working as hard as possible to develop alternative sand sources to make this agreement with the city of Moorpark irrelevant, or moot,” Ehrlich told The Malibu Times. 

“We’re working as hard as we can so as not to delay the project at all, and we’re hoping at the end of the day that we’re not going to delay the project at all.”

The original timeline for the beach nourishment project had sand replacement beginning in fall 2016.