Saturday, February 24, 2007

If only it were a little bigger

Last month the NCT ran this strange story in their science and technology section. I thought I had accidentally clicked on The Onion.

Losing Ground: North County's shoreline victim of natural process

By: DAVE DOWNEY - Staff Writer

NORTH COUNTY ---- If only Santa Catalina Island were bigger. The popular tourist destination off the shore of Orange County is 22 miles long and 8 miles across at its widest point. Even at its smallish size, its rocky bulk shelters beaches from Oceanside to Los Angeles from giant winter waves and helps them retain sand, according to a new study by scientists at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Similarly, other Channel Islands get credit for the relatively wide and sandy beaches around Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Farther south, much of North County lies outside of Santa Catalina's shadow. Its beaches bear the brunt of brutal winter swells. Consequently, local beaches tend not to be as sandy as those elsewhere in Southern California, said Bill O'Reilly, a senior development engineer at Scripps who spearheaded the study, in an interview last week.

O'Reilly recently presented study findings to the San Diego Association of Governments' shoreline preservation committee, which is contemplating another sand replenishment project like the one in 2001 that beefed up a dozen scrawny beaches from North County to Imperial Beach. The committee has decided to shop around for state and federal grants to defray the estimated $25 million cost of dredging sand from the ocean floor and spreading it on six miles of beaches.

After the presentation, Steve Aceti, executive director of the Encinitas-based California Coastal Coalition and a committee member, joked that the panel's priorities might be misplaced.

"All these years, we've been talking about trying to get a grant for more sand," Aceti quipped. "We ought to be talking about getting a grant to make Catalina Island bigger."

Ha-Ha, that' great. We've now established that Steve Aceti is not a surfer because no surfer would choose to reduce our swell window even more. (Aceti is not a scientist either, he is a political lobbyist, so why is he quoted in the science section of the paper?)

The article spends a lot of time blaming Catalina and lagoons for our lack of sand and passes over man made structures like harbors and jetties.

If we are going to blame Catalina we might as well start blaming the moon. The moon affects tides and high tides can strip and move the sand around overnight. Aceti might as well quip that we need a smaller moon. Then Michael D Pattinson can write an op-ed piece about crazy moon lovers and their crazy moon loving agenda against sand.

It's funny, northern and central California have wide open swell windows, get 50 foot waves and lots of rain and storms. Yet, there are many beautiful sandy beaches in central and northern California. They also have massive kelp forest that dwarf anything we've had for decades. These giant kelp forest protect the beaches and coast by grooming the massive swells.

Maybe it's time north county politicos starts giving a damn about our local kelp beds, that's something we can actually make "a little bigger".

This image ran with the NCT story. It shows a swell model and the "shadows" the islands cast. This image doesn't tell the whole story because the angle and size of the swell is constantly changing. This image is of a rare big west swell.

To see this swell model in real time click here. Be sure to check out the other regions of California.


  1. Wouldn't you know it? Steve Aceti's name pops up again. Yes, he is not a scientist. He was probably mentioned because of the California Coastal Coalition. Sounds an awful lot like the California Coastal Commission. But I would expect Aceti to be continuing his deceitful ways after his Prop. C fiasco.

  2. Yes, Steve Aceti's fingerprints are all over this, too. It's too bad when scientists sit on a committee with political lobbyists, and form conclusions that have a fund (tax) raising slant, spinning the facts in this case to make the "shadow" of the islands look far different than they look right now, ignoring many other factors.

    Another good post, JP; thanks!

    SAVE THE KELP! Cut the sand to 5 million cubic feet, and delay "spreading" it to give our kelp more time to build up.

  3. Where does the funding for Aceti's job come from?

  4. Funny title to this thread, JP.

    We know it doesn't refer to Aceti's ego.

  5. Catalina majorly blocks the angle of our average north swells in the winter. The Catalina theory is flawed because Catalina protects north county 90 percent of the time in the winter. Look at the current swell model jp linked. Catalina shadows the north swells all the way to Sunset Cliffs. The west swell model the north county times ran is misleading. It's not that way 90 percent of the time.

  6. Correction. I meant to say that Catalina shadows north county all the way to Del Mar, not Sunset Cliffs.

  7. Bigger Catalina would mean even less swell getting in here.

  8. cut the swells and lets get some sand for our tourists. Sand is much more important than surf. We need the income in our city from sales tax.

    We need to build more stuff. Heck we don't even have curbs and gutters all over the city yet.

    When can we build a new city hall like Vista?

  9. Move to Vista and your dreams will come true.

  10. The economic impact of surfing over 12 months a year is more than the 3 summer tourist months. This city has no idea what a draw surfing is for it.

    You can't make Catalina bigger...

  11. Poster above at 7:59 am and 8:00 am is partially reading the chart incorrectly. Look carefully at the colors and swell heights. It is light blue and dark blue with the greatest swell height reduction caused by island shawdowing. The medium and darker green with less swell height reduction reach the North County coast. Also look at the light green of what is basically open ocean. I would interpret the change to medium and dark green as swell height reduction caused by the sharp turn of the coast to the east at Point Conception north of Santa Barbara. And it explains why the swells reaching Isla de Todos Santos off of Ensenada are not much reduced.

    Without the islands the reduction would probably be the same for our beaches. As J.P. said, we can't make the islands bigger. I say we can't change the curve of the coastline either.

  12. Catalina jumps for Joy!

  13. Oops, I forgot to add that Isla de Todos Santos and Ensenada are not shown on the chart. But you can see the trend in color change (less swell height reduction in South County) and project this on into Mexico. Most surfers know about the huge winter surf breaking at Todos Santos. It is also the bottom topography that augments the undiminished height of the arriving swells.

  14. Someone ask where Aceti gets his funding.
    He extorts money from coastal cities so they can feel good and try to covince their voters that they have a conservation program. It's a version of the scam that Jesse Jackson runs on corporate America and it's ashame that it works.
    Office space is funded or subsidized by SRF because he has convinced some that he is an Attorney although he of course never passed the bar.
    Kind of a sad way to make a buck!

  15. Part of the SANDAG,sand,$$$ thing is that SANDAG is interested in putting on the ballot and passing an "aren't you glad you live here tax". This would be used to fund projects like sand replenishment and other pet SANDAG projects. I don't know if it is a sales tax addition or what vehicle they would like to use to collect the revenue or what their pet projects are? This huge revenue base would be controled by those sitting on SANDAG board and committees. I can't remember who those people are?

  16. SANDAG Board are council members appointed by the individual City councils.

  17. SANDAG watchdog

  18. Since most of the Council members elected by the 18 Cities in San Diego County are not that intelligent and educated, the SANDAG staff has almost free reign on the direction of SANDAG. Staff guiding SANDAG is a scary thing considering the SANDAG staff are career public employees with little motivation, creative ideas, intellect or education.

    The head of SANDAG is an ex-CALTRANS official. That says it all. Hence, SANDAG is easily influenced by outside pressures like the Building Industry Association (BIA) (Which Patterson is or was the president.

    No wonder there is all this talk of densification without the needed funding to build the proper infrastructure to support the high density. Without high quality infrastructure to support the high density, you get the quality of life of Compton, CA

  19. That's what she saidFebruary 26, 2007 7:22 AM

    I didn't know that NCT was a girl.

  20. so now we don't like Compton? Is there a city we like besides leucrudia?

  21. Listen, we would NOT want to be like Compton.

    I like Cardiff by the Sea, too. It's okay to like our hometown, and to want the kelp to grow back, to want to have decent surf, and to have good fishing.

    Some people like to distract the discussion, especially when it comes to anyone making critical remarks about SANDAG. I find the posts about SANDAG, and its development ties to be informative and fascinating.

  22. Encinitas should have the visioin to be cooler that Laguna Beach, pebble beach, Del Mar and every other quaint coastal town. Only the developer's would want to sell out our City and have it look like compton. Check it out:,_California


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