Wetlands: Beach Drive / Marina Inlet

Prior to the construction of the Loch Lomond Marina in the early 1960’s, the area now identified as the Beach Drive/Marina Inlet was an open-water, navigable beachfront of San Francisco Bay bordered by Pt. San Pedro Road and inlet-1950Beach Drive in the Bayside Acres subdivision. This photo was taken in the 1950’s.

In the early 1960’s, the McCarthy family interests obtained permits and developed what is known as the western basin of the Loch Lomond Marina.  The western basin of the marina fronted the commercial upland sections of the McCarty property.

Subsequent to the 1962 construction, expansion of the marina (Public Notice 62-77) was facilitated with the development of the eastern basin.  The dredging spoils from the eastern basin were deposited in the eastern spoils site which today forms a seasonal freshwater/salt water wetland.  The eastern spoils site was developed across from the bay frontage of private properties located along Beach Drive, thus creating the Beach Drive inlet.

The wetlands to the west of Beach Drive regularly was purged and kept fresh by tides from the Bay through a flap gate and pipe under Beach Drive. See Beach Drive Wetlands for more information on the restoration of this wetlands area.

A dike was constructed along the eastern edge of the planned marina, extending into the Bay and forming a protective “arm” around the marina site. inlet-1980The area behind the dike was then filled from the dredging required to construct the marina. The result of this construction was to form a narrower inlet, or channel, where there was once open Bay access, as can be seen in this photo.

This blocked the open access to Bay waters formerly enjoyed by residents along Beach Drive and Pt. San Pedro Road as well as restricting water flow into the wetlands, putting a strain on the health of those wetlands.

Subsequent maintenance dredging of the western and eastern basins used the eastern spoils site for spoils deposition. In 1967, this activity in the eastern spoils site led to the failure of the northern levee allowing for the spillage of dredged spoils into what was now the Beach Drive inlet.  Complaints were lodged regarding the amount of annual dredging and the lack of maintenance of the levee which had effectively closed off the Beach Drive inlet for the Bay. Subsequently, the dredge applicant withdrew their request to continue use of the eastern spoils site.

Despite notice of this violation of various Federal and State statutes, including but not limited to Section 10 of the Harbors and Rivers Act, 1899 and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, neither the Federal nor State authorities acted to correct the violation.  Repeated notice of this violation has been given to the US Army Corps of Engineers including a 12/20/94 letter from Bayside Acres Homeowner Association to the US Army Corps of Engineers. This failure was never repaired by the Marina owners.

inlet-markedThis photo vividly demonstrates the damage being caused by the unrepaired failure of the dike. As a consequence of the lack of maintenance of the eastern spoils site levee, the Beach Drive inlet is no longer adequately flushed by the tides and has filled in with sediment that facilitates the growth of reeds and, thus, accelerates the accretion of more sediment. In addition, the health of the Beach Drive wetlands is being increasingly compromised.

There is also a clear danger to the health of the wetlands that are part of the Marina property just west of the dike and to the waterfowl that depend on these wetlands on a regular basis.

inlet-2008This final photo (Google 2008) demonstrates the increasing disappearance of the waterway and wetlands with the growth of grasses in the area filling with silt. If this process is allowed to continue, the inlet/channel will soon disappear and the adjacent wetlands along with it. The solution requires repairing of the dike and, possibly, dredging of the inlet. Other actions may also be required.

At this point, no action has been taken by any of the governing authorities.