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Long Beach seawall 'in imminent danger of collapse'

April 5, 2010 |  5:32 pm

Portions of the sea walls protecting Naples Island in Long Beach from the ocean are "in imminent danger of collapse" and could send homes sliding into the water if not replaced soon, officials said Monday.

The assessment came in a recent verbal report that an engineer and city staff gave to Councilman Gary DeLong, whose district includes Naples.

On Tuesday at a special study session, Long Beach officials will consider spending up to $9.5 million to rebuild the most severely damaged sections of the concrete sea walls.

The fear is that if some of the sea walls buckle or crumble, oceanfront properties could fall into the water.

The city has long known about the deterioration of the neighborhood’s sea walls, first built in the 1923 to protect properties from dredged canals. The 20-foot-deep structures were rebuilt after being damaged by the 1933 earthquake.

Workers have been repairing salt water corrosion and maintaining the walls annually, but DeLong said they are getting too old to justify continuing to patch them up.

“We’re 70 years into a 50-year life span,” he said. “Any money on maintenance is just throwing good money after bad because they just need to be replaced.”

One alternative, according to a report the council will hear Tuesday, is to spend $1 million reinforcing the most damaged portions, extending their life by another five to 10 years.

Within the next 10 to 25 years, the city will need to replace all the neighborhood's sea walls, at a cost of $60 million.

Such a plea for funds will probably be met with a critical eye, especially as the city faces a multimillion-dollar deficit in the coming year.

DeLong said urgent action is needed to save money in the long term.

“If we don't act quickly, it has the potential to become a far more significant problem,” he said.

-- Tony Barboza in Orange County