Summer of 1970 – the Jetty Is Stopped by OB

by on December 1, 2007 · 0 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Environment, OB Time Machine, Ocean Beach, Organizing

The Jetty is Stopped

There was definitely turmoil in OB the summer of 1970. For a number of weeks during those hot days, OB residents used a combination of direct action and legal moves to battle efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers and the City to construct a jetty parallel to the southern edge of the San Diego River channel — next to what is now Dog Beach. Many locals viewed the jetty as a prelude to an attempt by the City and developer interests to create a marina and resort district at Ocean Beach’s waterfront. Ostensibly, the project, according to city officials, was to protect OB from flooding from the San Diego River Channel, to prevent the loss of sand from the beach area, as well as to stop the spread of sand into the Mission Bay entrance. The community didn’t buy it. Opposition to the jetty was wide-spread, from surfers to elderly retired grandmothers, from young professionals and local businesspeople to the long-hairs.


Construction on new jetty begins – July 1970

Carol Bowers, a local OB historian, would write years later about the jetty action in her column in The Beacon. In her piece from July 6, 2000, she recounted how the original plan for the jetty was to have it extend 1,570 feet into the ocean with a curve at its end. Then City Manager Walter Hahn had arranged the project through the Army Corps of Engineers, who had signed a contract with a local construction company to build the jetty at a cost to the city of $565,000. Construction was to begin July 1, 1970. Bowers continued:

“Whoa!” said the surfers. It sounded to them as though their favorite surfing area was going to be ruined. And a group called the Ocean Beach Ecology Action Committee feared the impact on local marine life could be disastrous. Protesters began meeting every day at the construction site as a huge crane dropped boulders onto the beach.

Work was stopped temporarily, and on July 14, Ocean Beach residents, including Tom Bailey, the president of the Ecology group, met with the City Council and Army Engineers officials to ask that a thorough environmental impact study be made.

“There has been nothing presented yet to justify any change in City Council action which is based on recommendations from the Corps of Army Engineers, ” Councilman Sam Loftin side. [ed: Loftin then represented the City Council District that included Ocean Beach.]

But the City proceeded with the work, although the one concession was that the deep end of the jetty would not curve. Ecology Action picked up the gauntlet, and the very next day filed for and was granted a docket at the next City Council meeting, scheduled for July 21, 1970. However, during a closed-door committee meeting of City officials, OB residents’ spot on the council agenda was quietly dropped.

(to read more click HERE)

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