The Inertia Contributing Writer
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Perfect El Porto. Photo: Ricky Lesser

Perfect El Porto. It rarely, never, ever gets like this. Photo: Ricky Lesser


The Inertia

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of using the public toilets at El Porto you know they could use an upgrade. If you haven’t, trust us, they’re grim. (Maybe just raze them, please?)

In a roundabout way, the bathrooms — and many other aspects of Los Angeles’ beaches — could improve with help from Uncle Sam. Thanks, Obama? More like, “Thanks, Congressman Ted Lieu” whose district includes nearly all of the Los Angeles County coastline.

If the shitters do improve, it may be because Lieu has introduced a bill to grant federal protection to L.A.s coastline from Venice to Torrance, including some associated areas like Playa Del Rey’s Ballona Wetlands. The idea is to include those areas in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Why might this be a good thing? Because the federal government has a lot more money to take care of the joint than cash-strapped Los Angeles and the California State Parks system, who control them now. More money could mean improvements to your dawn patrol deuce as well as better protection and more funding for scientific studies – upgrades us beachgoers would receive without additional fees.

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While the shitters are definitely bad – prison bathrooms are nicer in some countries – L.A.’s beaches have even more serious problems including toxic runoff and the unknown consequences of sea level rise and ocean acidification. Getting scientists to take a hard look at these issues is huge, says Surfrider Foundation spokeswoman Jennifer Savage.

“We are forever short on data and this would be an opportunity to provide us with so much more,” she says. “Any time we can acquire a fuller understanding of what’s happening in our oceans, that’s a good thing.”

Apart from science-science, the federal government could fund studies of public use and access of our coast. Savage says that could provide opportunities to make sure everyone gets to enjoy the frequently junky, close-out beach breaks that predominate from Venice to Torrance. (Who knows, maybe they’ll put in manmade reefs that actually work, like the Gold Coast is doing.)

“We can see who has been underserved, see where public access has been compromised and look for ways to expand public access,” Savage says.

HR4871 was actually introduced back in late March. It’s now in a federal lands sub-committee, and it’s hard to say when Congress or the president may get a chance to vote on it. If it passes, the federal government will conduct a three-year study to figure out how best to steward the coast.

Seeing as beach visits skyrocketed from 50 to 70 million a year since 2007 (a more than 40 percent increase), it seems now more than ever L.A.s beaches could use some help.

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