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Photos of Newport Beach Jetties, Newport Beach California


Photos of Newport Beach Jetties, Newport Beach, California -  In popular surfing culture Newport jetties are commonly thought of as River Jetties or RJ, derived from the Santa Ana River County beach from which Newport Beach harbor got its start. 


On the jetties pictured above near 28th Street, these words of caution are posted: WARNING - No Diving or Jumping from this structure. Submerged rocks, sharp and slippery rocks, dangerous waves (high surf) and strong.  CAUTION - Hazardous and changing conditions may exist on or around this structure. Stay Alert - Be Careful.  Fishing License Required - Licencia de pescar requerida


Newport Beach jetties and dredging made Newport Beach what it is today. Yacht clubs with the world's finest ocean craft, industries such as Duffy Electric Boat Company, and harbor cruises and dinner events have all prospered thanks to the jetties. The largest benefactor of the jetties and dredging efforts are investors. A tiny beach shack that costs $2 million at one time would have cost a few cents.


A series of jetties along the Newport Beach coast extend from the northernmost point at the mouth of the Santa Ana River where it empties into the Pacific Ocean, all the way to the tip of the Newport peninsula where boats exit a channel to the ocean.  In the late 19th century, Newport Beach was muddier than Huntington Beach's swamp land (that's now been dredged and turned into housing developments.) Impassable to ships, a similar swamp was in Newport was purchased by James McFadden who paid a dollar per acre. Purchasing this muddy bog from the federal government, he bought a large portion of the peninsula from 40th Street to 9th Street in 1892.


In 1905 when the Pacific Electric Red Car came to Newport Beach and tourism grew, the urge to develop the swamps became possible, thanks to dredging and the idea of building jetties. The construction of its network of jetties began in the 1920s. Jetties kept the waves out of the harbor and left sand on the beach.  From 1917 to 1921, a 1,900-foot jetty at the harbor's mouth on the west side of the ocean and a dam that diverted the Santa Ana River from the bay were completed. Six years later in 1927, the west jetty was extended and an east jetty at the harbor's mouth was built, changing the course of nature.


Newport Beach quickly became a sought out destination for celebrities and filmmakers, plus developers.  Balboa Island lots that sold for $200 (couldn't give them away) now cost upwards of $1,000 per foot on the waterfront today.

Building jetties in today's climate would be a tough proposition in this same location. One similar proposal several years ago in Huntington Beach was nixed as efforts to return a portion of land to its original state as a tidal inlet for a wetlands was funded. That project opened in 2006, successfully enhancing the Pacific Flyway nesting areas for migratory fowl and other wildlife.


Newport Beach experiences similar concerns. Its Upper Newport Bay has been preserved as as significant flyway for migratory fowl. The Upper Bay flows into the Lower Bay exiting to the Pacific Ocean.  Silt and sediment deposits have nearly choked the Upper Bay and similarly, dredging is needed in the lower bay. In 2006 a dredging effort was funded and began in Newport Upper Bay. Its shelf life is expected to be around 20 years until dredging is once again required. Toxic solids are moved by barge from the bay in an effort that takes approx. 3 hours to complete. The dredged sludge and mud requires special treatment to dispose of or store safely and US Army Corps of Engineers is involved in procedures to regulate and monitor this activity. 


Many ask why dredging of the channel to the Pacific Ocean has not begun, and the reply has been:  There are areas in the harbor that require maintenance dredging. However, since the sediment has tested to be unsuitable for ocean disposal, no other suitable sites have been identified at this time. Since funds are not available, no dredging activities are programmed in FY 06 or FY 07.


Such is the price of activities that artificially alter nature's path. In fact, jetties in Newport Beach permanently eliminated a surfing spot in Corona del Mar, a Newport Beach community.