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Old Salt Lake | Virtual Museum

Report by Galen Hunter

Elevation Specifications for Clean up and Restoration

[ Page updated - September 28, 2020 ]

This brief report identifies the baseline or default historical specifications and context for people to frame various plans to clean up and build on and/or restore a devastated famous natural resource 50 acre site "Old Salt Lake" in Redondo Beach, California. The site is currently occupied by a power plant. The specifications illustrated in this report are the elevations noted on the 1935 Los Angeles County Surveyors "Map of Proposed Redondo Beach Harbor" (Figure 1) and the supporting 1946 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map titled "General Plan of Improvement Redondo Beach Harbor" (Figure 2).

The context addressed here is there are people who want the future of the site to be an historic wetland park. To claim the place is an historic wetland park, those folks would need to incorporate into their discussion and plans historical specifications of the site as a wetland. Not only the historical elevation specifications, but also the type of lake bed material and the extent of the area of wetland restored. The lake bed material specification can be based on the 1890 State Mining Bureau Report "Lake Salinas" by Preston, who noted the lake had a clay bottom. The extent of the area of wetland restored specification can be based on the 1898 George Tod, Jr. "Map of Lumber Yard and Salt Lake in the Town of Redondo Beach, Los Angeles Co. California.". George Tod, Jr. was the Civil Engineer who originally laid out the Townsite of Redondo Beach and in his map he noted the Salt Lake was 14.10 acres. There are numerous other historical documents which can confirm the 14.10 number. There were also two adjacent ponds south of the Salt Lake according a number of historical documents, so the total historical wetland area at the site was closer to 20 acres. If the cleanup and restoration of the site resulted in matching these specifications, people will have a chance to claim the place is an historic wetland park.

If people want to further increase the chance to have an historic wetland park here, after this man-caused devastation site has been cleaned up and restored according to the above credible historic specifications, simply fence the entire site off for a year or two and watch what happens. For instance, see where the water pools up. The simple idea is - you don't want to do what was done here in the past - build expensive, fixed structures, especially where water pools up.

Building expensive, fixed structures near an ocean and wetland is not a good idea. What happens is maintenance costs get externalized to the future. The previous owners of the site built expensive structures right there, extracted the natural resources, resulting in devastating the site. Now is the future, and we are all paying for the destruction of this environment. Will there be a repeat of past mistakes? Will people, for instance, compromise the extent of the historical wetland area to appease the new owners of the site so they can build expensive, fixed structures there and externalize maintenance costs to the future again? The answer is people will probably allow past mistakes to occur. Or people will not allow past mistakes to occur. Clean up and restore the site to historical specifications as much as humanly possible and leave it alone.

[Figure 1 - 1935 Los Angeles County Surveyors "Map of Proposed Redondo Beach Harbor", CSB1083-3, detail of wetland features and elevations.]

[Figure 2 - 1946 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "General Plan of Improvement Redondo Beach Harbor", detail Sand Dune, Salt Lake. Digital photograph by Galen Hunter of the original plan at Redondo Beach Public Library.]