Battle Over Lagoon Cleanup Divides a Surfing Haven

Some surfers worry that a $7 million plan to dredge the Malibu Lagoon could affect the sand flow to the beach, destroying what many call the perfect wave.

The New York Times
Published: May 25, 2011

MALIBU, Calif. — It was a cool weekday afternoon, but dozens of surfers were bobbing in the water, waiting for a wave. This was Malibu: the national symbol of surfing, adored by California wave riders for 50 years, near the famous stretch of coast where Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon partied on the beach.

These days, Malibu is renowned for something else: a court and civic battle that has pitted surfer against surfer, environmentalist against environmentalist and City Council member against City Council member. A $7 million plan to clean up the Malibu Lagoon — its brackish waters clogged with silt and mud — has stirred up a community that is more commonly identified with exclusivity and natural beauty than street protesters and smack-downs at City Council meetings.


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