Fair Game



Although nobody likes to encounter tar balls on a visit to the beach, officials say there’s no reason for concern

I received a letter this past week that concerned me. Now, before we go any further, the is not to cause alarm, but an attempt to find out why. You’ll know what I mean as I explain.

The letter I received said, “I was in Crescent Cove, surrounded by other beachgoers, local birds and even a seal, and upon sitting down to catch some sun, realized my foot was covered in tar, which took some time to comprehend, as this is obviously not a natural occurrence.”

The letter writer proceeded to tell me that they then called a posted number to report the incident, also calling the Coast Guard and then the “Fish and Wildlife Department number.”

Upon receiving the news, I went to a couple of sources who I knew would get to the bottom of it…Mayor Sue Kempf and OC Supervisor Katrina Foley.

Mayor Kempf connected me to Laguna Beach’s Marine Safety Captain Kai Bond who told me, “the City of Laguna Beach Marine Safety Department is coordinating a response with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to investigate tar balls observed on city beaches.” Captain Bond then told me that “within the last two weeks, city staff had responded to multiple similar reports.”

Ultimately, Bond’s findings were these: “Tar balls along the shoreline of city beaches are a natural year-round occurrence consistent with the Southern California coastline; however, the rate of occurrence typically increases during the spring months. These natural tar balls may range in size, and are typically between one and five inches in diameter. In contrast, tar associated with oil spill incidents are most often larger, slicker patches of tar with a diameter of a few feet, and may be accompanied by oil sheen in the surrounding water or sand.

“To provide a bit of background, the Los Angeles Basin is the name of the ocean floor off of Los Angeles and Orange County. This coastal area is characterized by large deposits of oil. Small amounts of oil consistently seep out of the sea floor and naturally rise to the sea surface. During spring, upwelling ocean currents regularly bring the oil to the surface. Additionally, spring winds blow consistently in a direction that pushes that oil directly toward Los Angeles and Orange County beaches.

“Beach patrons may step on or swim into these oil clumps, which usually results in them sticking to you. You often find these clumps of oil along the high-tide line in the sand. The best way to remove oil is by washing the area with oil-based products.”

Supervisor Foley concurred, “My Field Response Team determined what they observed was consistent with natural seep.”

I was relieved with the news I received on several fronts. First, it was determined it was nothing to be alarmed about. Still, Captain Bond encouraged “anyone who encounters abnormally large amounts of oil or tar on the beach to avoid contact and call Marine Safety Dispatch at 949.494.6571. Second, I was impressed by the quick response from Mayor Kempf, Captain Bond and Supervisor Foley. It brought a feeling of comfort that those in control ARE ON IT.

And, thanks, too, to the citizen who initially contacted us with the issue in the first place.

• • •

The City of Laguna Beach invites the community to a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Friday, May 17 for the new Moss Street Beach Access. The event is scheduled to take place at 8:30 a.m. at the terminus of Moss Street at the beach.

What you’ll see: The new Moss Street Beach Access improvements include replacement of the existing stairs, walkways, bike racks and enhanced landscaping.

The design incorporates colored concrete steps, board-formed concrete retaining walls and black anodized aluminum handrails. The muted earth tones assimilate these improvements into the newly vegetated bluff which consists of a mix of native and drought-tolerant plants.

The new stairs have been realigned to create new overlook points which enhance the viewing experience of Moss Point while traveling down the stairs to the beach.

The improvements also include a new enclosed lifeguard tower. The tower accommodates a single occupant and will significantly improve working conditions for Marine Safety Department staff assigned to Moss Cove.

The construction period lasted approximately eight months with a total construction cost of approximately $1,770,000. A significant contribution to the funding was made possible by Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), who secured $1,225,000 in state funding for the project.

“Thanks to the funding secured by Senator Min, the Moss Street Beach Access has undergone a transformative renovation,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf. “The upgraded features, including redesigned stairs, walkways and a new lifeguard tower, not only enhance accessibility but also preserve the natural beauty of our coastline. This project underscores the city’s commitment to improving coastal access and environmental stewardship.”

“Summer is just around the corner and the grand opening of Moss Street Beach Access could not have come at a better time,” said Senator Dave Min. “I’d like to thank the City of Laguna Beach for partnering with my office to secure $1.2 million in state funds to bring this project to life. Local infrastructure has the ability to transform communities, and both local residents and visitors alike will benefit from this new pathway to the shoreline.”

• • •

Trevor Ullom, manager of Coast Hardware/Ace, recently instituted a Round-Up Campaign at the store over a three-month period. When customers came to the register and they were presented with the total owed, they were simply asked if they’d like to “round up” for the Boys & Girls Club.

A round-up could be as low as a penny and up to .99.

The campaign aimed to support the vital programs offered by the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, helping to fulfill their mission of empowering young people to become productive, caring and responsible citizens.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Coast Hardware/Ace completes “round-up” campaign and presents check for $3,764.18 to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Ullom was happy with the results saying, “During the last several months our associates asked customers to round up at the register to give back to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. We are proud to say our awesome customers and associates rounded up $3,764.18 for the club.”

It was a nice, unexpected gift.

Pam Estes, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, commented on the importance of community support. “It takes a village to make a difference, and we are incredibly grateful to be part of such a supportive community. A big thank you to Trevor and the entire Coast Hardware team for championing our cause and, most importantly, to the customers whose generosity made this possible,” she said.

The funds collected will support the Boys & Girls Club’s offerings to young people, including academic support, sports and recreation, arts and crafts, and life skills development programs, all essential for the healthy growth and development of local youth.

As an important aside, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach serves more than 4,000 youth per day in the Laguna Beach, Lake Forest, Aliso Viejo and Mission Viejo areas. The club’s mission is to empower all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential by promoting their healthy social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.

For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, visit www.bgclagunabeach.org, or call 949.494.2535.

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