By Dave Wiggins, Conservation Co-Chair
For over 20 years, Sierra Club members in and around Redondo Beach have fought hard to ensure that the eventual closure of the city’s seaside power plant would lead to the restoration of the historic wetlands that existed in the area till the 1940s. Massive residential development proposals have been defeated, zoning safeguards have been enacted, and there is a growing consensus among city and county leaders that preservation of open space, development of parkland, and restoration of the wetlands should be among the highest priorities for the site’s future.
The power plant now operates at only 2% of its capacity, and it’s scheduled to shut down at the end of 2020, though an upcoming decision by the State Water Resources Control Board could extend its life for a further two years.
Either way, a major breakthrough toward parkland and restoration at the site has just occurred. On November 5, at the urging of Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (the most powerful elected officials you never heard of) voted unanimously in favor of a resolution expressing the county’s intent to partner with Redondo Beach in a financing plan for the acquisition and development of the power plant site, and the adjacent power line corridor, as regional parkland. The plan will include cleanup of the soil at the site and the restoration of the historic wetlands in the area.
Obviously this will be an expensive undertaking, and many, many details remain to be worked out through ongoing, years-long cooperation between the city, the county and the state. Estimates of the cost run up to $93 million. But the state has already committed to a $5 million contribution, with the remainder to be paid for through the financing plan that the city and the county have now agreed to develop.
The mayor and the city council of Redondo Beach, and the supervisors of Los Angeles County deserve thanks for their commitment to the plan. Though much work remains to be done, a long-held dream for the restoration of urban coastal wetlands has just taken a giant step toward reality.