Dire Strait in Long Beach

By Jinah Kim and Lorel Kane
|  Wednesday, Apr 7, 2010  |  Updated 7:00 AM PDT
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Naples Island Seawall Crack

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Portions of the seawall protecting Naples Island in Long Beach are in imminent danger of collapsing, according to a new study presented to Councilman Gary DeLong, whose district includes Naples. DeLong says if they are not repaired or replaced many oceanfront properties could slide into the water.

Naples Island is a neighborhood like no other -- a mini Venice, Italy in Long Beach, complete with gondola rides and multi-million dollar homes. But the 80-year-old seawall holding up Naples Island is like a ticking time bomb, according to Councilman DeLong.

“I think when you have homes that are in danger of sliding in the canal, I can’t think of a more urgent need than that,” said DeLong.

At a special session of the Long Beach City Council this afternoon DeLong told colleagues he needs about $9-million dollars as soon as possible to rebuild one particularly worn section of the Naples canal that suffered even more damage from Sunday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake centered in Mexicali, Mexico.

“I think it needs to be fixed, especially before the next major earthquake, and we don’t know when that’s going to happen,” said Naples resident Jericho Poppler.

But the question is whether to fix it now when city governments everywhere are drained of money – especially since the canal flows through one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Southern California.

City Councilman DeLong says the canal doesn’t just belong to the residents of Naples Island, it’s a public waterway that belongs to everyone.

“We cannot procrastinate. We cannot dilly-dally. We cannot analyze this thing forever. We need to absorb the information, make a decision, move forward,” DeLong said.

DeLong says he will look for outside sources of money to address the seawall’s most immediate needs, but eventually the entire seawall will need to be replaced and that’s expected to cost around $60-million.
 

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