A day of wind equals a week of cleanup along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail.

Weekend storms caused high surf and winds along the coast with some areas of the popular beach bike path covered by as much as two feet of sand by the end of Sunday. Officials said work to clear the route countywide would be completed by Friday, Feb. 5 but the Santa Monica sections are already free of debris.

According to Steven Frasher from Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, the 15 miles of blocked trail sections are obscured by intermittent deep sand, making bicycle travel impractical until the sand can be removed.

The affected area of the County’s Pacific Ocean frontage is (north to south) from Barnard Way to Washington Boulevard at Venice Beach, and from Ballona Creek Channel at Dockweiler Beach to Via Riviera at Torrance Beach. The more inland Marina Del Rey segment of the route is unaffected.

Santa Monica has control over the bike path within City limits and City Hall officially took responsibility for cleaning the path last year. Paul Davis, Santa Monica’s Beach Maintenance Supervisor, said his crews sweep the path five days a week during the winter and seven days a week during the summer.

The Santa Monica section was clean and “spotless,” according to Davis, on the Monday following the wind.

The wind made for interesting vistas this week and the cleanup is highly visible but officials said wind has little impact on the overall beach health.

“It’s the erosion that’s the bigger cause for concern,” said Carol Baker, Community & Marketing Services Division Chief with the Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors. “That’s tidal predominantly and we have to sort of see what Mother Nature does in the months following winter and see how much is restored.”

She said the County has an interest in keeping the beaches clean and open for several reasons. Beaches are the county’s largest tourist attraction pumping millions into the local economy. Wide sandy beaches also act as a filter that helps prevent trash from reaching the open ocean and local authorities spend significant time capturing that garbage.

“These beaches are urbanized beaches, cleaned every day,” she said. “There’s a lot of visitors, it’s not as though we have scrub or anything growing on large parts of our beaches because they are highly used and need to be sanitized on a daily basis.”

Rain is of more concern than wind because wet weather drives pollution toward the ocean.

“Our biggest ecological concern is when there’s rain and first flush because the bay becomes polluted,” she said.

Sand that does become contaminated during a storm, such as deposits that gather on roadways and parking lots, is put in a dumpster and treated in the same manner as other garbage. Sand that is blown off the beach but is otherwise clean, like deposits on the bike path, can be swept up and returned to the beach.

Judith Meister, Beach Administrator for the City of Santa Monica, said Santa Monica installs sand fences during the windy season to prevent too much sand from leaving the area but when it does happen, she said it’s just a matter of cleanup.

“Typically in the winter months we do get a lot of wind and there’s a lot of blowing sand but I don’t think it’s a concern environmentally,” she said.

For more information about the bike trail, visit http://dpw.lacounty.gov/bikepathclosures. For more information about the Santa Monica beach, visit www.smgov.net/Portals/Beach.


Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...