San Pedro

El Niño Brings Heavy Erosion to Cabrillo Beach

Southern Californians took advantage of the President's Day holiday to get in a little beach time, but some were surprised to see the once sandy Cabrillo Beach coastline is now covered in rocks.

El Niño has kicked up high surf in the last few weeks, and that's causing major erosion along Southern California shores. Cabrillo Beach was especially hard hit, and that's creating dangerous conditions there.

Erosion is normal in winter months, but this year Los Angeles County beaches are experiencing a 25 to 50 percent increase in sand loss over last summer.

LA County lifeguards say El Niño is causing particularly high surf, and 12-foot waves are washing away more sand than usual. That's creating hazardous conditions - more rocks on shore and hidden sink holes beneath the water.

"The inshore holes are uneven so kids could fall in - three or four feet from shore a toddler can fall in a short hole and be four or five feet deep," lifeguard Capt. Ken Haskett said.

The uneven shoreline has also created more rip currents, causing the county to staff extra lifeguards this holiday weekend.

"My main concern is the bath house," said Allan Johnson of the Cabrillo Beach Boosters, a non-profit group formed in 1993 to restore the historic Cabrillo Beach Bath House.

The group is pushing Los Angeles city officials to truck in more sand to restore the coastline and to build a sand berm to protect the bath house from potential flooding.

"Mother nature is still champion," Johnson said. "We can do a lot of things, but we can't stop it. So what we can do is recognize the potential problem, put resources in place and basically when we need them, we can apply them."

A spokesperson for Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, whose district includes the neighborhood of San Pedro, says the city is looking into the best way to restore the beach and hopes to come up with a plan in the coming weeks.

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