Ventura Beach Retreats from Damage of Rising Seas

Posted by Patrick James

Ventura Managed Retreat
The Los Angeles Times reports that the beach known as Surfer's Point in Ventura, California, has begun a process of "managed retreat" from the ocean. A bike path and 120-spot parking lot—which, incidentally charges only $2 for entire days at the beach—currently face significant erosion from rising sea levels, so construction crews will move them 65 feet inland.

The effort by the city of Ventura is the most vivid example to date of what may lie ahead in California as coastal communities come to grips with rising sea levels and worsening coastal erosion. As the coastline creeps inland, scouring sand from beaches or eating away at coastal bluffs, landowners will increasingly be forced to decide whether to spend vast sums of money fortifying the shore or give up and step back. State officials say the $4.5-million project in Ventura is the first of its kind in California and could serve as a model for threatened sites along the coast.

The plan could buy the point break and beach—which sits beside the Ventura County Fairgrounds and is a favorite destination for both tourists and the local surf community—an additional 50 years of existence.

Other threatened sites include the Isla Vista neighborhood of Goleta, where retirees and UC Santa Barbara students reside precariously close to an eroding bluff. They'll be looking south to Ventura for an object lesson on how to handle what might become a significant issue over the next century.

It's worth noting that the "managed retreat" approach has worked before, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's also worth noting that regardless of how many Times commenters dispute any suggestion of a link between climate change and rising sea levels, we should expect many more beachside communities to face this problem in the years and decades to come.

The lot and bike path in question are located just beyond the upper right section of the above image, around the bend from the cluster of palm trees.