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Push for Coastal Projects Shifts to Senate

November 17, 1985|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

Officials in Redondo Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes, encouraged by a vote last week in the House of Representatives, are shifting lobbying efforts to the Senate in an effort to win federal assistance for water projects in their cities.

The House authorized nearly 400 water projects nationwide, including improvements to the breakwater and inner harbor at King Harbor in Redondo Beach and a study of measures to stop landslides in the Portuguese Bend area of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Even with the favorable House vote, local and federal officials say the proposed projects face a dubious future because of opposition in both the Senate and the White House to a massive water projects bill. The Senate version of the $20-billion bill does not include funding for the King Harbor and Portuguese Bend projects, and the Reagan Administration has protested the House legislation as too costly.

A water projects bill that included the same King Harbor and Portuguese Bend projects was approved by the House last year but died after the Senate was unable to come up with a version of its own.

Efforts to win federal funding for the local projects continue, nonetheless, as officials in Redondo Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes concentrate on the Senate. Sheila Schoettger, director of the Redondo Beach Harbor Department, said the city hopes to gain approval of the King Harbor project in the House-Senate conference committee, which will attempt to reconcile conflicting portions of the House and Senate versions of the legislation once the Senate passes its bill.

An aide to Rep. Glenn M. Anderson (D-Harbor City), who was active in passage of the legislation in the House, said the Senate should vote on its bill next month. The two versions would then be sent to the conference committee early next year.

"We are very hopeful that we will be included in the final legislation," Schoettger said. "We will be asking Sens. (Alan) Cranston and (Pete) Wilson to help us."

Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor John McTaggart said officials in his city are also hopeful that the conference committee will include their project in legislation sent to President Reagan.

"In the interest of coastal ecology, our bill is very significant in that the tide pools are pretty much devastated by the silt of the Portuguese Bend landslide for a mile of the coastline," McTaggart said. "It presents the opportunity to improve the coastal sub-tidal ecology."

The House legislation would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to study the feasibility of reconstructing the shoreline in Rancho Palos Verdes to help stabilize the landslide area. Over the past 25 years, the hillside has moved more than 500 feet toward the ocean.

McTaggart said the study would be the first step toward building a sea wall near the landslide area. The sea wall, he said, would complement landslide stabilization and abatement projects that will be built with $2 million in state funds approved by the Legislature in September.

At King Harbor, the legislation would shift the burden for dredging and maintaining the inner harbor from the city to the federal government; provide funds for raising portions of the breakwater to a height of 22 feet, and authorize the Corps of Engineers to study the possibility of raising the breakwater even higher.

About half of the one-mile breakwater is 14 feet high, and Redondo Beach officials fear that high waves from a major winter storm could tear through the breakwater and damage businesses, homes and public property on shore. A major storm in 1983, which destroyed a portion of the breakwater, caused an estimated $2.7 million in damage.

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