Malibu Sand Berm Constructed for Happy LA Surfers

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This may be the best news of the winter for surf-starved Los Angeles surfers. Malibu’s Surfrider Beach is world renown for its peeling waves at First Point (closest to the Malibu Pier), but just a short walk north is what used to be a surfable right and left for shortboarders. Before the restoration project of the Malibu Lagoon, local Pepperdine University students and LA commuters enjoyed the spot whenever a south swell came to town. Its finicky conditions may have a promising short-term solution.

The Surfrider Foundation has announced that Malibu City officials are busy constructing a winter sand berm that may improve surf, while preventing heavy rains from flooding the Malibu Lagoon.

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Bulldozers worked on the project at Surfrider Beach from November 16th – 23rd, 2013. Photo: Surfrider Foundation West LA Chapter

The Surfrider Foundation’s West LA Chapter blogged the news explaining the potential impacts of a sand berm:

“For several years the Malibu Lagoon has breached on its eastern end regardless of seasonal rainfall or peak flows. Among other impacts, this has caused erosion around the Adamson House estate resulting in landscape alteration, tree removal, and shoreline armoring. For surfers, this breach pattern has taken sediment away from Third Point while simultaneously creating sandbars throughout inside First Point.

“The Malibu Surfing Association and the Surfrider Foundation have been working with local, county, and state elected officials and agencies to develop a plan to manage the Malibu Lagoon inlet toward a westerly breach while protecting against further damage associated with an eastern breach.

“There are several important benefits to such a plan:
•       Improved surfing conditions at Third Point and First Point
•       Improved beach access and increased beach width
•       Reduced erosion around the Adamson House estate
•       Improved public safety by improving lifeguard access toward Third Point.
•       Possible increase in tidal circulation to wetlands

surfrider, malibu, sand berm

Summertime in Malibu is always a good time, especially when the waves are good. Photo: Surf Channel | Shannon Quirk

Dodging bullets in Los Angeles... The south swell saved surfers from the Santa Monica College tragedy. First Point at Malibu was firing! Photo: @cbusch

First Point at Malibu saw fun swell this summer, but imagine surfing from Third Point all the way to the Malibu Pier? Photo: @cbusch

“In the short term, the easterly breach threatens to cause additional erosion this season when the inlet breaches. In response, Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors (LACDBH) has applied for emergency permits with local, state, and federal agencies to construct a seasonal sand berm to prevent an easterly breach. While this berm is meant to prevent an eastern breach at Malibu, berm-building itself is a common activity along the California coast in preparation for the winter storm season.

“The Malibu Surfing Association, the Surfrider Foundation, and local surfers have been in regular communication with LACDBH throughout the development of this plan. The sand berm is a low impact response and a temporary solution to an issue that requires a long term plan. Nevertheless, we believe it is an important first step.”


Malibu is famous for its long peeling rights, just north of the Malibu Pier. Photo: Surf Channel | Shannon Quirk

“In the long term, we will continue our work with stakeholder to develop a management plan that meets all of the necessary local, state, and federal environmental regulations. Such plan will require research, funding, and a sustained commitment from all parties to realize its goals: to benefit surfing, avoid the need for shoreline armoring, improve emergency response times, reduce beach erosion, and improve circulation to the recently restored wetlands. We believe such a plan should be based on soft, non-armored, low-cost structures that are low-impact, easy-to-manage, and may not require action every season. 

“In our view, this effort toward a long-term plan now enters a new phase in which the Malibu surfing community (and others) can take an active, positive role in the plan’s development, approval, and implementation. We look forward to the work together. Nothing is ‘in stone’ and active, thoughtful, and respectful contributions will undoubtedly strengthen the plan’s vision.”

malibu, surfrider, sand berm

Malibu locals are optimistic that the sand berm may improve surf conditions for upcoming south swells. Photo: Surf Channel | Selma Al-Faqih

malibu, sand berm, surfrider

Ideally, rain water filtering down from the valley will flow down to Malibu’s Third Point instead of flooding the beach. Photo: Surfrider Foundation West LA Chapter


Shortboarders now have reason to celebrate, as the local government officially decided to move forward with the sand berm construction project – rarely passed by the officials. Hopefully there will be a few more waves to ride in the lineup as LA surfers await the next south swell.

(1398 Posts)

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