An unordered collection of old documents about this shoreline before and after the
1909 rock breakwater was put in.
1887 photographs by I. W. Taber showing the original southwestern coast of Santa
Looking north. Taber labeled this photo "Redondo Beach (The Pebbles)"
Looking south. Taber labeled "Redondo Beach (The Sands)"
Below is a 1959 aerial photo. It shows the same spot of coast where Taber took the
1890 photo looking north at the first pier from the hotel grounds.
References to beach stones in Indian graves
In the 1905 Bulletin No. 37 of the California State Mining Bureau, “
stones, gems, jewelers' materials and ornamental stones of California
on page 71. Dr. George F. Kunz writes:
“About fifteen miles south of Los Angeles is Redondo, a well-known beach resort.
Here are found many beautiful pebbles. It is the custom after each tide for visitors
to search the beach in quest of these treasures, which are especially abundant north
of the pier and as far as Playa del Rey. They are thought to come from a bed of
sand and gravel in the vicinity.
In 1901 several of these pebbles were found in an
Indian grave near Redondo
. Large quantities of these pebbles are gathered
and sold to tourists. Chains are made by drilling the stones and stringing them
on a flexible wire. They are also polished and set in rings, brooches, etc.
Besides the chalcedony pebbles are others in which red jasper is mixed with chalcedony.
More striking than the others are the so-called flower stones. These appear to be
fragments of a dark colored eruptive with very fine-grained or aphanitic base, in
which feldspars have developed with a radical structure suggesting little flowers.
Another important pebble locality was formerly that known as Moonstone Beach, on
Santa Catalina Island, but this is now exhausted. The pebbles were not moonstones
but nodules of quartz weathered out of a rhyolite rock—composed of sanidine feldspar
and quartz—while those of Redondo are agate and chalcedomy, and doubtless came from
some amygdaloidal rock, a reef of which may outcrop in the beach below low water
mark, the pebbles being washed up by the waves.”
ca. 1910, "
Reconstruction by Dr. Palmer
of a prehistoric Indian house and place of worship
"Photograph of a reconstruction by Dr. Palmer of a prehistoric Indian house
and place of worship, California, ca.1900-1930. A ring of stones layed out on the
beach surround two short wooden posts flanking another oblong stone. The posts have
symbols written on them. A cone of rough wood timbers stands nearby. Adjacent to
the cone of timbers is dome of earth with an opening. Two canoes and a paddle lay
on the sand nearby. Sundry camp and cooking implements are also present. The ocean
is visible in the background.", Source: USC Digital Library
1908, The Beach Stones of Redondo,
by A. K. Rutter, Source: Souvenir Great White Fleet Edition, Redondo Reflex, United
States Atlantic Fleet, April, 1908, Original copy at Redondo Beach Historical Museum.
The Beach Stones of Redondo
An Article from the Pen of A. K. Rutter, Descriptive of the Different Varieties
of Semi-Precious Native Gems
Redondo Beach is especially favored with an abundance of pretty stones that are
cast upon its beach by the action of the ocean currents running from the south to
the north through the deep channels, where their soft matrix has disintegrated and
allowed the hardened substance to fall out in their rough state, as are seen on
the beach. If the currents, running from the south to the north, prevail for some
length of time, there will be an abundance of pebbles cast up. If the currents are
to the opposite, then they disappear.
I shall try to describe those that are the most desirable to have polished, although
it is exceedingly difficult to do so in every instance, on account of the many different
kinds. The novice need not despair in finding pretty stones, although it takes years
of experience to separate the best stones. Any one, by close observation, can tell
whether __ is a pretty stone or not, and, what is more important, is whether it
is fractured too much or crystallized too coarse or not. If the grains or crystals
are too far apart and not of even texture, it is not susceptible of a good polish.
Now as to character and kinds that are found on this beach. While they are apparently
numerous, they are nearly all related and come under one head, namely: Quartz, of
the carbon silicon group: either vitreous, cryptocrystaline, or granular. Among
the first named appears the clear crystal, sagenitic, or rutilated, enclosing hornblend,
asbestos stibnite, and often containing water, being transparent. Under the second
head comes the translucent chalcedony, or beach moonstone, of different colors.
When white we call it moonstone: green, it is called chrysoprase, and a dark green,
with red blood spots, it is called heliotrope or bloodstone.
In great variety of colors and combinations of colors come the agate-jaspers, with
streaks of sardonyz running through them, and might be called the sacred jaspers
on account of their biblical description.
All of those coming under the last named head are a very hard substance; a polished
surface of these will stand the test of the hardest steel.
Opal is never found in the water and consequently is never found on the beach; it
being a much softer substance you will not find it with the other pebbles.
It might not be out of the place here to state that fine specimens of an aluminum
spar, the composition of Ceylon moonstone, is found here, but not so plentiful as
the chalcedony variety.
Under the last named class of quartz that are found here are the following: Beckite,
or coral changed to quartz; the conglomerates of different kinds; silicified wood,
or jasperized wood; geyserites, tripolite, etc. Almost all known forms of quartz
are found here and some forms that are not found elsewhere. The green porphyries
and the serpentines are also included in the last named class.
Although the book names will not interest some, it is quite interesting to know
them. Among them are just a few that are found at this beach, other than those already
given: Cairngorm, ferriginous-sinter, cherts, flints, hornstone, rutile, epidote,
prase, calcite, albite, gympsum, fluorite, menilite etc.
No one with the aid of book description alone can tell the different and the best
stones as he sees them and get the best results in cutting – it requires the practical
work of research and testing by cutting and polishing, and the more time you devote
to it the more proficient you become.No one can hope in the short time of six months,
a year, or two years, to know it all concerning the pretty stones that are found
at this beach, that appear in kaleidoscopic changes of no two stones alike.
The “freak” stones, with peculiar combinations of colors, with peculiar associations
and mineral enclosures, nature marks, taking different forms and figures of faces,
birds, and animals, and very valuable, are among the very fascinating gems to be
found at this beach.
No one can hope to give a full description of all the pretty gems that can be fonund
[sic] here. On one will ever know or see all the distinct and pretty, valuable stones
that can be found to add to your collection in your lifetime. Every trip made in
search of them discloses new beauties, never before seen, and makes one wish to
live a hundred years.
It is interesting to know that for a great number of people these pretty stones
have a great attraction and is the magnet that draws them out of their thoughts
of sorrow and care and places them on the road to health and happiness.
1930's - 40's, "Redondo Beach Stones,
Collected in the 1930's - 40's", Source: Redondo Beach Historical Museum.
Beach stones in Redondo Beach Historical Museum.
Redondo Reflex newspaper article clippings
1896 Topographical Map - Redondo Sheet
California State University, Chico
California Historic Topographic Map Collection
1934 Topographical Map - detail
California State University, Chico
California Historic Topographic Map Collection
1999, U.S. Geological Survey, Topo Map
Longitude: -118.39650 Latitude: 33.84994
1924, Los Angeles County Survey
1968, Nautical Chart, NOAA's
Office of Coast Survey, Historical Map & Chart Project, [detail]
Subsidence of the King Harbor Breakwater
at Redondo Beach
by Jeffrey Johnson, Robert Dill, Hany Elwany, Ron Flick, Neil Marshall
(PDF 4 MB) Source: Coastal Environments -
The Breakwater at Redondo Beach,
California, and its Effects on Erosion and Sedimentation
, A Thesis Presented
to the Faculty of the Department of Geology, University of Southern California,
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts, by J.
W. Marlette, July 1954", Source: Redondo Beach Main Public Library,
Excerpt (page 67):
“Summary and Conclusions
The construction of the breakwater in the vicinity of Redondo Beach in 1939 has
caused the complete destruction of a strip of bathing beach south of the breakwater
and has damaged or destroyed structures that bordered the former beach. The erosion
has been accompanied by a gradual buildup of sand next to the breakwater, both on
the north and south sides. ...”
1889, Pacific Coast Pilot of California,
Oregon and Washington, by George Davidson, U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - Office of Coast Survey,
Survey pages 46, 47 and 48.
Excerpt (from pages 46, 47):
“In executing the hydrography of Santa Monica Bay, a well-marked current running
to the northward and westward was always observed in the vicinity of Malaga Cove,
and abreast the salt works.
Redondo Wharf. – A wharf has been constructed from the beach near the salt pond
at the southeast part of Santa Monica Bay, and it stretches out towards the deep
water at the head of the sub-marine valley. Thence a railroad was constructed to
La Ballona. The strong westerly winds make a heavy swell squarely upon the beach,
and in one of the heaviest blows the outer part of the wharf was damaged (1889).
[ … ]
From Malaga Cove the high cliffs change to long, rolling sand dunes about one hundred
feet in height and parallel to the straight, smooth sand beach. Inside of these
dunes are grassy ridges, reaching two hundred and forth feet elevation, and beyond
are broad depressed plains. Six and one-quarter miles north of Point Vincente and
behind the first low ridge of sand dunes lies the small salt pond, where
salt is manufactured in considerable quantities and transported fifteen miles to
Los Angeles. At the time of the survey it was eight feet below the level of high
water, and the water has a much greater specific gravity than the sea-water. It
is of limited extent, being four hundred yards long by one hundred fifty wide, and
in ordinary years the product is two hundred and fifty tons; in favorable seasons
it has risen to five hundred tons."
Natural Advantages of Redondo Beach for
the Accommodation of Deep-See Commerce
"Southern California, Seaboard Commercial Points.
Natural Advantages of Redondo Beach for the Accommodation of Deep-See Commerce.
Report from Col. G. H. Mendell, (Corps Engrs. U. S. Army) And WM. Ham. Hall, (State
Engineer of California)
Transmitted to the Board of Trade Los Angeles.
"A Report by WM. Ham. Hall, Consulting Civil Engineer.
Report on the Natural Commercial Advantages of Redondo Beach; and Recommending Certain
Works for Availing of those Advantages.
Addressed to the Hon. Chas. Silent, Pres’t Redondo Beach Company.
Date December 12, 1887"
"A feature of your property, significantly located with respect to this inshore
deep water, is a lake depression, 1400 feet in length and 300 to 400 feet in width,
whose waters are at about the level of high tide, and which lies parallel to the
shore, behind a ridge about 20 feet in elevation. This depression may be dredged
out to make a dock basin 1400 feet long, 300 to 350 feet wide n the bottom, with
a wider space at one end for turning vessels and deep enough to receive the largest
ships afloat. Its southern end is so situated that a channel may be cut thence through
the ridge to the very deep water heretofore described; and a sea-wall or jetty to
protect this channel out to 30 feet depth of water would have to be only 650 feet,
and to 42 feet only 900 feet in length - the opening channel being laid obliquely
to, and not square out from the shore.
There is no question, in my mind, as to the ability to excavate the basin and the
canal of approach, and build the jetties or sea-walls, so that the channel will
The question of the exact plan and cost is one now under consideration. The character
of materials to be encountered in the excavation largely governs the cost; hence,
borings are in progress which test this matter; and thus far results are most favorable,
for, in the several borings made, nothing but sand and loose sandy earth have been
"A Report by Col. G. H. Mendell.
Report upon the Natural Conditions of Redondo Beach as a Commercial Seaboard, and
upon Constructions Projected to Develop its Advantages..
Made to the Hon. Chas. Silent, Pres’t Redondo Beach Company
December 31, 1887"
"The Interior Basin
On half of a mile to the northward of the head of the submarine valley and 800 feet
from the beach, there is a lagoon about 1,200 feet long and 400 feet wide, the water
of which stands at the level of high tide, and the bottom at near the level of low
tide. The lagoon is separated from the sea by a line of sand dunes a few feet above
sea level, though a low point of which your consulting engineer proposes to excavate
a canal to the beach for a ship channel, and to continue it to the flank of the
submarine valley, between two stone piers, extended to about 7 fathoms of water,
and at the same time excavate the lagoon to a depth sufficient for deep draft vessels.
"The material to be excavated, so far as know, is principally sand and mud.
Test pits or borings ought to be sunk in such numbers as to detect any considerable
patch of rock or hard clay that may underlie. Care may thus obviate great expense
"Editorial Mention of the Redondo Beach Commercial Project.
A Port For The largest Vessels.
Daily Herald, Jan. 11th 1888
… Near the northern limit of the tract is a salt lake, where from the earliest times
a considerable quantity of salt has been made. The purchasers of the tract thought
to clear this lake out for pleasure purposes, and to build a pier out from the beach
for limited commercial and pleasure uses. At this stage of the planning they called
on State Engineer Wm. Ham. Hall to advise them as consulting engineer. By his advise
a very careful sounding was made of the water frontage for a mile out from the shore,
which revealed the existence of a very remarkable deep canon in the bottom, heading
close up to land opposite the middle of the tract. The existence of inshore deep
water at this locality had been before known by a few person, in a general way only,
from the United States Coast Survey soundings" …
Letter for Application and Notice of
, Source: City of Redondo Beach
"NOTICE OF SALE OF FRANCHISE
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN: That an application has been made to the Board of Trustees
of the City of Redondo Beach in the state of California, for a franchise granting
the right, for the period of fifty years, to lay and maintain two or more iron pipes
in and along Ninth Street from Westerly side of Lake View Avenue in the said city
of Redondo Beach to the Westerly end of said Ninth Street for the purpose of conducting
water and oil between the ocean and the power-house of the Pacific Light & Power
Company, together with the right of conducting water or oil in said pipes from the
ocean to said power-house.
And that it is proposed by said Board of Trustees of the City of Redondo Beach to
offer for sale, and grant to the highest bidder, the said franchise upon the terms
and conditions hereinafter mentioned.
That the character of said franchise is as follows, to whit:
A franchise granting the right, for the period of fifty years to lay and maintain
two or more iron pipes in and along Ninth Street from the West side of Lake View
Avenue in the said City of Redondo Beach to the Westerly end of said Ninth Street,
for the purpose of conducting water and oil between the ocean and the power-house
of the Pacific Light & Power Company, together, with the right of conducting
water and oil in said pipes from the ocean to said power-house, and returning water
from the condensor to the ocean.
That the terms and conditions upon which said franchise will be offered for sale
and granted are the following:
That the said pipes shall be laid at least four feet beneath the surface of the
street wherein the same shall be maintained, and in such a way as not to obstruct
said street for the ordinary uses and purposes thereof. ..."
1934, "History of Redondo Beach",
by Christian J. Schaeffer
Excerpt (page 57):
"Redondo Beach has always been known particularly for its moonstone beach.
It seems, from earliest times ground mounds of pebbles formed on the beach north
of Diamond street. They extended almost to the Hermosa Beach line and were five
or six feet in depth, and from forty to fifty feet wide. Here were found moon-stones,
moss and flower-stones, ruby-like stones and many others; very pretty specimens.
Anyone could gather a bucket full of very beautiful stones in a short time; people
came from near and far to get them.
One of the earliest controversies among our city fathers was regarding these stones.
Some citizens thought they could gather them forever and there would always be an
inexhaustible supply. The cement in the side-walks and foundations of many of the
early homes in Redondo, Hermosa and as far as Inglewood are constructed from these
stones; it is said ten thousand loads were used in the construction of the Edison
Plant in the northern part of the city."
1997, California Public Utilities Commission,
Note: Cultural and Environmental Checklist required as part of Edison Power
Plant divestiture plan.
"Existing Water Resources
The Redondo power plant is located adjacent to King Harbor in the City of Redondo
Beach on the southern shore of Santa Monica Bay. The power plant draws from and
discharges water to Santa Monica Bay and King Harbor.
Water quality in Santa Monica Bay is affected by the physiography, climate, and
hydrography of the southern California coastal region. Natural surface water temperatures
in Santa Monica Bay vary between 11.7° C (53.1° F) and 22.2° C (72° F) annually,
and may be expected to vary between 1.0 and 2.0° C in summer and 0.3 and 1.0° C
in winter. Salinity in Santa Monica Bay ranges from 33.0 to 34.0 ppt. DO concentrations
in Santa Monica Bay range from approximately five to 12 mg/l. Normal pH values in
Santa Monica Bay range between 8.0 and 8.6 units.
Despite the relative abundance of aquatic and terrestrial life in and around Santa
Monica Bay, the Bay’s habitats have been significantly altered and degraded. For
example, only approximately 5% of the area’s historical wetlands acreage still exists.
Pollution of coastal waters has led to a decline in species and a commercial fishing
ban on white croaker in certain areas. In addition, although the use of DDT was
banned in 1971, residues of this pesticide still bio-accumulate in the tissues of
invertebrates, fish, birds, and marine mammals.
Water quality immediately offshore of the power plant is affected by stormwater
runoff, industrial discharges, and ship traffic. In addition, climatological parameters
(e.g., solar radiation, humidity, and wind) influence the condition of the receiving
Water inside of King Harbor is essentially isolated from open coastal circulation
and from normal wave- and surf-induced turbulence. The exchange of water with open
ocean is limited but is enhanced by both tidal flow through the harbor entrance
and the withdrawal of large volumes of cooling water. Solar heating, limited vertical
mixing, and the reduced exchange of open water leads to naturally elevated water
temperatures in the harbor, especially in the shallow mooring basins.
Existing Thermal Effects. Between November 1971 and January 1973, Edison completed
a thermal effects study for the Redondo power plant to comply with Section 316(a)
of the Clean Water Act. The study measured the surface areas and the horizontal
and vertical extensions of the 1° F and 4° F elevated temperature field around the
outfalls in Santa Monica Bay and King Harbor. The vertical profile measurements
indicated that the elevated temperature field is not in contact with the ocean substrate
except along the shore and harbor breakwater. The study demonstrated that waste
discharges from the power plants are in compliance with the Thermal Plan and that
beneficial uses of the receiving waters are protected, as required by Section 316(a)
of the Clean Water Act.
Daily temperature monitoring records for 1993, 1994, and 1995 were reviewed. During
this period, the only exceedance of the temperature discharge limitation occurred
on October 16 and 17, 1995, in water discharged from Discharge Serial No. 001. On
these dates, the water temperature of the discharge was 108.6° F (for 9 hours) and
114° F (for five hours), respectively. The temperature exceedance occurred during
times when a generating unit was running at high load operations and one of the
circulating pumps for the unit was out of service. The circulating water provided
by one pump did not generate sufficient cooling water to reduce the effluent water
temperature. The high temperature was resolved by placing a circulating pump from
an adjoining unit in service, and the temperature dropped to within permit limits.
The Redondo power plant is currently applying for an addendum to its NPDES permit
to allow a 5° F temperature increase in the water discharge temperature. At times
of peak load operation, the effluent water temperature has approached the discharge
limitation temperature. This occurs only when the influent water temperature is
abnormally high during warm summer months of July and August. The Redondo power
plant will ramp down power production to prevent a permit exceedance when water
discharge temperature nears the discharge limit.
Existing Wastewater Discharges. Wastewater discharge reports for the Redondo power
plant for 1993, 1994, and 1995 were reviewed to determine compliance with the NPDES
permit limitations. During this time, no exceedances of the discharge parameters
were incurred, and the station was in compliance with the NPDES permit discharge
Current Water Uses
The largest volume water use at the Redondo power plant is seawater used non-consumptively
for once-through plant cooling. The station is permitted to use 1,146 mgd of once-through
cooling water when operating at design capacity.
Ocean water for cooling purposes is supplied to the station via two cooling water
systems, one serving Units 1 through 6, and one serving Units 7 and 8. The flow
is directed to three screening facilities within the plant. One screening facility
serves the retired Units 1 through 4, the second and third facilities serve Units
5 and 6, and Units 7 and 8, respectively. After screening, the water is pumped to
two steam condensers.
Approximately 320,000 gpm of seawater enter Units 1 through 6 from King Harbor through
two 9.8-foot inside diameter concrete conduits. The intake conduits originate approximately
1,600 feet offshore and draw water from an approximate depth of 20 feet below MLLW.
After passing through the condensers, the temperature of the cooling water is elevated
12.8° C (23° F) in Units 5 and 6 when the units are operating at full load. The
temperature increase is less when operating at lower loads. The warmed water is
discharged to the Pacific Ocean through Discharge Serial No. 001. This discharge
consists of two conduits that extend approximately 1,600 feet offshore and discharge
at an approximate depth of 25 feet MLLW.
Approximately 468,000 gpm of seawater are supplied to Units 7 and 8 through a 14-foot
inside diameter concrete conduit that originates approximately 1,000 feet offshore
and draws water from the mouth of King Harbor at an approximate depth of 20 feet
MLLW. After passing through the condensers, the temperature of the water is elevated
12.0° C (21.6° F) when the units are operating at full load. The temperature increase
is less when operating at lower loads. The warmed water is discharged to King Harbor
through Discharge Serial No. 002. The discharge consists of a 14-foot inside diameter
concrete conduit that terminates about 300 feet off the beach at King Harbor in
Redondo Beach at a depth of approximately 20 feet below MLLW.
The plant also handles and discharges water used for other purposes besides cooling.
This water is considered low-volume wastewater and consists of water from boiler
blowdown, air preheater and boiler fireside washing, yard drains, fuel oil tank
enclosures, hydrostatic test water, and oil water separator wastes. The low-volume
wastes are discharged to retention basins. Water from the retention basin is mixed
with the cooling water for discharge.
The station also discharges small amounts of groundwater generated by dewatering
activities. The property is a former marsh and low-lying area. Because groundwater
elevations range from surface grade to five feet below ground surface, the station
must keep three groundwater pumping wells running in the area of the fuel oil tanks
to keep the area from becoming submerged. The water recovered is pumped into the
Units 5 and 6 intake system.
Freshwater consumption at the station is limited to drinking water, other domestic
uses, and minor in-plant uses. Edison reports freshwater consumption to the USGS
every five years. In 1990 and 1995, the Redondo power plant used 194,240,000 and
122,231,000 gallons of freshwater, respectively.
Wastewater Discharge Permit
The Redondo power plant discharges water under NPDES Permit No. CA0001201, Los Angeles
RWQCB Order No. 94-133, which expires on November 10, 1999. The permit issued for
the Redondo power plant is based on design capacity operation or full capacity operation
of the power plant.
The NPDES permit identifies the following beneficial uses of the receiving waters
for King Harbor: industrial service supply, non-contact water recreation, ocean
commercial and sport fishing, marine habitat, and preservation of rare and endangered
species. In addition to these uses, the beneficial uses identified for the near-shore
zone include navigation, water contact recreation, preservation of areas of special
biological significance, shell fish harvesting, and fish spawning.
The NPDES permit also establishes a receiving water monitoring program, consisting
of periodic biological surveys, sediment sampling, and chemical surveys of the receiving
waters at locations around the wastewater outfall. The NPDES permit designates 16
monitoring and sampling stations in the receiving waters around the Redondo power
The discharge limitations specified in the NPDES permit for the Redondo power plant
allow a maximum temperature discharge of 106° F during normal plant operation. During
heat treatment the allowable temperature limit is increased to 125° F. The pH of
the effluent water must range between 6.0 and 9.0 pH units. The discharge limitation
for total residual chlorine is 0.633 and 0.422 for Discharge Serial Nos. 001 and
002, respectively. The discharge limitation for free available chlorine is 0.5 and
0.2 mg/l for Discharge Serial Nos. 001 and 002, respectively. Effluent limitations
for toxic constituents in the NPDES permit are based on the Ocean Plan and were
calculated using minimum dilution ratios (parts seawater to one part effluent) of
11.5 to 1 for Discharge Serial No. 001 and 7 to 1 for Discharge Serial No. 002.
No numerical limits are presented in the NPDES permit for toxic constituents not
used at the Redondo power plant.
The discharge constraints in the NPDES permit conform with statewide water quality
control plans, except that residual chlorine effluent limitations are greater than
the Ocean Plan objectives (0.10 mg/l and 0.064 mg/l for Discharge Serial Nos. 001
and 002, respectively). At times of peak load, the chlorine levels in the once-through
cooling water have been as high as 0.22 mg/l; however, chlorination bioassay studies
showed no significant adverse impact on the receiving water as a result of the chlorine
levels in the discharge. The SWRCB has approved an exception from the residual chlorine
1994, Travelers Indemnity Co. v. City of Redondo Beach, 28 Cal. App. 4th 1432 -
Cal: Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate Dist., 3rd Div. 1994
The California Courts have ruled that this activity is considered "Ultrahazardous"
Travelers Indemnity Co. v. City of Redondo Beach, 28 Cal. App. 4th 1432 - Cal: Court
of Appeal, 2nd Appellate Dist., 3rd Div. 1994 28 Cal.App.4th 1432 (1994) 34 Cal.
TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff and Appellant, v.
CITY OF REDONDO BEACH et al., Defendants and Respondents
Docket No. B075769
Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Three.v October 6, 1994.
Breidenbach, Swainston, Crispo & Way, Thomas A. Kearney, Richard E. Rico, Paul
A. Alvarez and Ted H. Luymes for Plaintiff and Appellant. Dewey Ballantine, David
S. McLeod, Jeffrey R. Witham, John P. Flynn, Patrick S. Schoenburg, Walters, McCluskey
& Boehle, Michael T. Montgomery, Flynn, Delich & Wise, Erich P. Wise, Nicholas
Polites, Hanna & Morton, Bela G. Lugosi, Burkley, Greenberg & Fields, Dana
K. Anderson, Carlsmith, Ball, Wickman, Murray, Case, Mukai & Ichiki and Clark
Heggeness for Defendants and Respondents.
CROSKEY, J.v The Travelers Indemnity Company of Illinois (Travelers) appeals from
an order dismissing its first amended complaint after the demurrer of the respondents
was sustained without leave to amend.
The pivotal issue in this case relates to the application of the 180-day limitations
period set out in Code of Civil Procedure section. We conclude that this special
legislation, enacted for expressly stated reasons of public policy to limit the
period in which an action can be brought for an "underground trespass, use
or occupancy [caused] by means of a well drilled for oil or gas ...," does
not apply. We cannot broadly read this statute, as respondents would have us do,
to impose on nearly every claim arising from an oil drilling operation a six-month
limitation period. We therefore reverse the order of dismissal except for the trespass
cause of action, which is plainly covered by section, and one other count, which
is defective for a separate and independent reason. As to those two counts we affirm
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On January 17, 1988, a powerful winter storm caused ocean waves to overtop the breakwater
in Redondo Beach Harbor. This resulted in substantial damage to the Portofino Inn
with an attendant loss to its owners in excess of $10 million. Travelers, the inn's
property insurer, paid this loss and became subrogated to the inn's rights against
any third parties who may have had some legal responsibility for the damage.
In pursuit of its subrogation claim, Travelers, on January 31, 1989, filed suit
against the City of Redondo Beach (City) and a number of Doe defendants alleging
that the breakwater had not been constructed high enough to restrain the storm waves.
Travelers sought recovery on causes of action for (1) dangerous condition of public
property (Gov. Code, § 835), (2) inverse condemnation, (3) breach of lease and (4)
negligence (Gov. Code, § 815.2). It is not disputed that, at the time this complaint
was filed, Travelers was unaware that respondents' actions and conduct might
have contributed to the loss suffered by its insured.
In February 1991, during discovery which it was monitoring in a related case, Travelers
learned for the first time that an expert, identified in such related case, was
prepared to testify that the breakwater had subsided approximately two feet after
its original construction due to the oil drilling activities beneath Redondo Beach
Harbor conducted by a number of oil companies pursuant to contracts and lease agreements
with the City. Further investigation by Travelers developed information demonstrating
that the respondents had, prior to January 17, 1988, been engaged in drilling operations
and oil extraction activities from beneath an area of Redondo Beach Harbor which
included the breakwater.
Based on this information, Travelers filed a motion on January 8, 1992, in which
they sought leave to amend the original complaint to add the respondent oil companies
as defendants and to allege six additional theories of recovery: (1) negligence,
(2) trespass, (3) absolute liability for interference with lateral and subjacent
support, (4) strict liability for ultrahazardous activity, (5) violation of Harbors
and Navigation Code section 294, and (6) nuisance. Travelers argued in support of
its motion that its recent discovery of this new information, and the fact that
the claims would "relate back" to the original filing date, would justify
the filing of the amendment. The trial court agreed, the motion was granted and
the first amended complaint was filed on January 28, 1992.
Respondents demurred to this pleading, contending that the 180-day statute of limitations
of Code of Civil Procedure section 349 3/4 barred the four causes of action for
trespass, interference with lateral and subjacent support, ultrahazardous activity
and the violation of Harbors and Navigation Code section 294. On May 15, 1992, the
trial court sustained respondents' demurrers to each of these causes of action
without leave to amend. That left the two remaining counts for negligence and nuisance.
On June 10, 1992, the 1438*1438 respondents filed a demurrer to these counts as
well, relying again on section
On October 23, 1992, the trial court overruled this demurrer, holding that section
349 3/4 did not apply. The respondents immediately requested reconsideration
arguing that since the trial court in the state court National Union case (see fn.
3, ante) had sustained this very same demurrer, the ruling in this case was inconsistent
and should be changed. Apparently giving little consideration to the possibility
that its original ruling was correct (see fn. 5, ante), and that of the judge in
the National Union matter was wrong, the trial court granted the respondents'
reconsideration motion and, upon reconsideration, reversed its earlier ruling and
sustained the demurrer to the negligence and nuisance counts without leave to amend.
On April 1, 1993, the court filed its order dismissing the action as to the respondents.
This timely appeal followed.
This appeal is essentially about the timeliness of Travelers' complaint. The
central issue presented is whether section 349 3/4 applies to all of Travelers'
causes of action. If it does, then the trial court was correct and its order of
dismissal must be affirmed. On the other hand, if section 349 3/4 does not apply,
then Travelers' pleading was filed in a timely manner and we must reverse.
Travelers contends that section 349 3/4 simply has no application to this case.
Indeed, Travelers argues, the fundamental thrust of the relevant portion of that
statute was directed at actions for unintentional underground trespass caused by
"slant" or "whipstocking" drilling activities of an oil driller
which succeeded in pumping oil from the property of another. Such a factual scenario
has nothing to do with this case. Therefore, respondents' demurrer based on
this limitations statute should have been overruled as to all of Travelers'
causes of action. The respondents dispute that argument and contend that section
349 3/4 is to be more broadly applied and does bar all of Travelers' causes
of action against them since the statutory limitation period had expired prior to
the time when Travelers filed its original complaint. Therefore, they urge, Travelers'
argument in regard to the application of the "relation back" doctrine
is irrelevant. They also contend that the limitations period of section 349 3/4
aside, there are independent reasons why the trial court's ruling was correct
with respect to the counts for (1) interference with lateral and subjacent support,
(2) liability for ultrahazardous activity and (3) violation of Harbors and Navigation
Code section 294.
1. Standard of Review
(1) This is an appeal from a judgment of dismissal entered after demurrers were
sustained to plaintiff's first amended complaint. "Therefore, under settled
law, we assume the truth of all properly pleaded material allegations of the complaint
[citations] and give it a reasonable interpretation by reading it as a whole and
its parts in their context. [Citation.]" (Phillips v. Desert Hospital Dist.
(1989) 49 Cal.3d 699, 702 [263 Cal. Rptr. 119, 780 P.2d 349].) If the demurrer was
sustained, as it was in this case, our function is to determine whether the complaint
states sufficient facts to state a cause of action. (Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d
311, 318 [216 Cal. Rptr. 718, 703 P.2d 58].)
2. Section 349 3/4 Was Enacted to Place a Limitation on the Prosecution of Actions
for Unintentional Underground Trespass by Oil Drilling Operations (2) As we have
noted, the parties dispute the application of section 349 3/4 to this case. Respondents
argue that the statute applies "broadly to actions for damages occasioned by
wells drilled for oil and gas." Travelers insists that the statute has a far
more limited purpose. Relying on the language of the statute itself, Travelers urges
that it is limited to "causes of action for underground trespass, use or occupancy
of the plaintiff's property." The Legislature enacted section 349 3/4 in
1935 to lessen the burden on oil drillers who had inadvertently trespassed on the
property of another through the process of slant-drilling or whipstocking. The techniques
of such drilling activities were little understood in the 1920's and early 1930's.
(Krueger, State Tidelands Leasing in California (1958) 5 UCLA L.Rev. 427, 436-437.)
As one court pointed out, within a few years after 1930 "techniques for ascertaining
and controlling a hole were developed, survey methods first, directional drilling
methods later. No doubt thousands of inadvertent trespasses were revealed...."
(Victory Oil Co. v. Hancock Oil Co. (1954) 125 Cal. App.2d 222, 234 [270 P.2d 604].)
The enactment of section 349 3/4 was the legislative response. In adopting that
statute, the Legislature found it necessary to declare the relevant public policy
at some length: "Sec. 2. Declaration of policy. It is declared that it is common
knowledge that there are thousands of oil and gas wells, of varying age, within
this state, which are not wholly within land owned, leased or otherwise controlled
by the past or present owner or operator of the well; that many such wells were
drilled without intent so to invade the land of another; that until recent years
there was no way for determining even approximately the subsurface location of the
well; that now it is difficult and expensive to determine by any method of subsurface
directional survey even the approximate subsurface location of the well, and in
cases of many producing wells, to make such survey may jeopardize the well and its
ability to produce; that in many instances wells could not have been drilled and
hereafter can not be drilled without some material deviation from the vertical;
that the producing of most and perhaps all such wells has been and will be of great
public benefit; that the possibility of commencement of large numbers of said causes
of action, excepting where the acts hereafter are committed knowingly and intentionally
as aforesaid, has brought great and undesirable confusion and uncertainty in the
oil industry, may cause terrific financial distress and unemployment, and may cause
the premature abandonment and prevent the full use of many wells, all contrary to
true conservation of oil and gas; that the people have a public interest in removing
said hazard and precluding said confusion, uncertainty, distress and unemployment,
without doing violence to private rights; that vigilant persons can protect their
rights within said one hundred eighty days; that public policy and the welfare of
the people require the reduction of the time for commencement of such causes of
action and that said one hundred eighty days is deemed reasonable; that public policy
and the welfare of the people require the measure of damages to be as above provided,
in all cases where the invasion of the rights of another person has heretofore been
or shall hereafter be by reason of any honest mistake of law or fact, either by
the departure of a well from the vertical or otherwise." (Stats. 1935, ch.
852, pp. 2286-2287, italics added.)
We have found no statute of limitations case, and the parties have cited us to none,
in which a court applied section 349 3/4 and which did not involve an underground
invasion of or trespass on the plaintiff's property. (See, e.g., Pacific Western
Oil Co. v. Bern Oil Co. (1939) 13 Cal.2d 60 [87 P.2d 1045]; Stafford v. Union Oil
Co. (1959) 173 Cal. App.2d 307 [343 P.2d 380]; Shell Oil Co. v. Richter (1942) 52
Cal. App.2d 164 [125 P.2d 930]; Union Oil Co. v. Domengeaux (1939) 30 Cal. App.2d
266 [86 P.2d 127]; A.E. Bell Corp. v. Bell View Oil Synd. (1938) 24 Cal. App.2d
587 [76 P.2d 167]; Williams v. Continental Oil Co. (W.D.Okla. 1953) 14 F.R.D. 58.)
3. Section 349 3/4 Applies Only to the Trespass Cause of Action.
By its plain terms, section 349 3/4 applies to Travelers' trespass cause of
action, in which it is alleged that the defendants' "subsurface entry onto
land occupied by [the Portofino Inn] unlawfully interfered with the possession of
[the Portofino Inn]," resulting in the damage which occurred. However, we reject
the respondents' broad reading of section 349 3/4, which would apply the statute
to all of Travelers' causes of action. Their argument that the only requirement
for the application of the statute is that a plaintiff sustain some property damage
as a result of the drilling of a well "from a surface location on land other
than [the plaintiff's] real property" is way off the mark. It totally ignores
the specific statutory language requiring an "underground trespass, use or
occupancy" by a well drilled from a remote surface location. As the legislative
history of this statute makes clear, and as the Legislature expressly stated, the
purpose of the legislation was to quickly conclude claims for unintentional underground
oil drilling trespass without undue loss or damage to the oil industry. The statute
does not have the remotest application to Travelers' nontrespassory causes of
Notwithstanding Travelers' attempt to plead a trespass cause of action, the
facts which the remainder of the complaint sets forth do not constitute a "trespass,
use or occupancy ..." of its insured's land. To the contrary, the gravamen
of Travelers' action against the respondents is that their oil drilling activity
caused a subsidence, not on the property of Travelers' insured, but under the
breakwater, resulting in a lowering of that bulwark by two feet. Travelers'
insured had no right, title or interest in that breakwater. What Travelers claims
is that respondents' actions created a dangerous condition in the breakwater,
a piece of public property, which seriously compromised the breakwater's ability
to serve its designed purpose of protecting the bay front property, one parcel of
which was the Portofino Inn.
Respondents rely on language in Felburg v. Don Wilson Builders (1983) 142 Cal. App.3d
383 [191 Cal. Rptr. 92] to the effect that section 349 3/4 applies to any damage
"occasioned by" the drilling of an oil well. (142 Cal. App.3d at p. 392.)
That reliance is misplaced. In Felburg, the property acquired by the plaintiff (a
residence developed on the surface of an old oil field) was damaged by an oil sump
which resulted from prior drilling activities. (Id. at pp. 387-388.) These facts
came within the terms of section 349 3/4 and the court properly granted summary
judgment to the oil company defendant. (142 Cal. App.3d at p. 392.) However, it
is not correct to read Felburg as applying section 349 3/4 to all causes of action
based on damages occasioned by any nearby oil well drilling. Felburg said no such
thing, and certainly its unremarkable holding provides no support whatever for
While it is true, as respondents contend, that the trespass described in section
349 3/4 can result from a departure of a well from the "vertical or otherwise,"
that certainly cannot be read to embrace the factual scenario which occurred here.
The ocean waves which crashed down on the Portofino Inn did not amount to an indirect
trespass by respondents' drilling activity. Respondents' contention to that
effect is simply an artfully creative way to try and escape responsibility
for their alleged misconduct under cover of section 349 3/4.
Because we conclude that section 349 3/4 applies only to Travelers' trespass
cause of action, we hold that the trial court erroneously sustained respondents'
demurrers to the other causes of action on this ground. The claims to which Travelers
is subrogated arose on January 17, 1988, and this action was filed on January 31,
1989. This is well within any of the statute of limitations periods which might
be applicable to the remaining causes of action. The first amended complaint, filed
on January 22, 1992, substituted the oil company defendants for numerous "Does"
and added applicable causes of action which manifestly arose from the same general
set of facts. It therefore "related back" to the original complaint. (§
474; Barrington v. A.H. Robins Co. (1985) 39 Cal.3d 146, 150-152 [216 Cal. Rptr.
405, 702 P.2d 563]; Smeltzley v. Nicholson Mfg. Co. (1977) 18 Cal.3d 932, 940 [136
Cal. Rptr. 269, 559 P.2d 624, 85 A.L.R.3d 121].
4. With One Exception, Respondents' Assertion on Appeal That Other Independent
Grounds Exist for Affirming the Order of of Dismissal Are Without Merit Although
the trial court relied exclusively on section 349 3/4 in sustaining respondents'
demurrers, respondents argue on appeal that independent grounds exist for affirming
the dismissal of three of Travelers' six causes of action.
a. Absolute Liability for Interference With Lateral and Subjacent Support
(3) It would appear that this common law action is limited to claims between adjacent
landowners. (Puckett v. Sullivan (1961) 190 Cal. App.2d 489, 495 [12 Cal. Rptr.
55, 87 A.L.R.2d 704].) Only activity on or which impacts an adjacent parcel can
result in absolute liability for the loss of lateral or subjacent support. As
Travelers has not, and apparently cannot, allege that the Portofino Inn was adjacent
to either the breakwater or the parcel(s) on the surface of which respondents conducted
their drilling activities, this count does not state a viable cause of action. As
the trial court's decision was correct as to this count, albeit for the wrong
reason, we will affirm the order of dismissal of this cause of action. (Troche v.
Daley (1990) 217 Cal. App.3d 403, 407 [266 Cal. Rptr. 34].)
b. Strict Liability for Ultrahazardous Activityv (4) The question presented by this
argument of respondents is whether oil drilling is, as a matter of law, ultrahazardous
so as to impose liability upon them. However, it would appear that this is a question
which cannot properly be decided on demurrer. As one court put it: "Section
520, Restatement Second of Torts enumerates the factors to be considered in determining
whether an activity is `abnormally dangerous' or `ultrahazardous': `(a)
existence of a high degree of risk of some harm to the person, land or chattels
of others; (b) likelihood that the harm that results from it will be great; (c)
inability to eliminate the risk by the exercise of reasonable care; (d) extent to
which the activity is not a matter of common usage; (e) inappropriateness of the
activity to the place where it is carried on; and (f) extent to which its value
to the community is outweighed by its dangerous attributes.' Whether a particular
activity is abnormally dangerous is to be determined by the court `upon consideration
of all the factors listed in this Section, and the weight given to each that it
merits upon the facts in evidence.' (Rest.2d Torts § 520, com. l.) Due to the
interplay of the various factors, it is impossible to define abnormally dangerous
activities. `The essential question is whether the risk created is so unusual, either
because of its magnitude or because of the circumstances surrounding it, as to justify
the imposition of strict liability from the harm that results from it, even though
it is carried on with all reasonable care. In other words, are its dangers and inappropriateness
for the locality so great that, despite any usefulness it may have for the community,
it should be required as a matter of law to pay for any harm it causes without the
need of a finding of negligence.' (Id. at § 520, com. f.) Thus, by its very
nature, the issue of whether an activity is ultrahazardous cannot be decided on
demurrer." (SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal. App.3d 902, 906 [200
Cal. Rptr. 497]; see also, Goodwin v. Reilley (1985) 176 Cal. App.3d 86, 90-92 [221
Cal. Rptr. 374].)
Respondents ask us to decide the issue as a legal matter. We do not believe that
would be appropriate at this early stage of these proceedings. Given the peculiar
facts here involved, the location of the drilling activity and the importance of
the breakwater to the safety of the Redondo Beach Harbor and its adjacent facilities,
we cannot say, as a matter of law, that respondents' drilling was not ultrahazardous.
1445*1445 c. Violation of Harbors and Navigation Code Section 294
5) This statute, as it was enacted in 1986, makes "any person" liable
for damages "incurred by any injured party" which arise from "any
exploration in or upon marine waters" from (1) "Any offshore well or undersea
site at which there is exploration for or extraction or recovery of natural gas
or oil...." Respondents argue that this statute is limited to damages from
oil spills. We disagree, at least for purposes of ruling on this demurrer. When
the facts are developed in this matter, it may well be appropriate for the trial
court to revisit the issue. As Travelers points out, the legislative history of
this statutory provision suggests that respondents' reading of the statute may
be too narrow. Among the express findings and declarations made by the Legislature
in enacting Harbors and Navigation Code section 294 was the statement, "It
is inevitable that there will be oil spills and other accidents as a result of undersea
exploration, recovery, processing, production, and transportation of oil and natural
gas ... off the California Coast." (Stats. 1986, ch. 1498, § 1(c), p. 5372,
The order of dismissal is reversed except as to the causes of action for trespass
and absolute liability for interference with lateral and subjacent support. As to
those counts, the order is affirmed. Costs on appeal are awarded to Travelers.
Klein, P.J., and Kitching, J., concurred.
 Respondents are a number of oil companies which were named as defendants in
Travelers' subrogation complaint. Except for two of the companies, which have
been dismissed from the action by Travelers, those same defendants are the respondents
appearing in this appeal. They are UMC Petroleum Corporation; Maxxam, Inc., formerly
known as MCO Holdings, Inc.; Texaco Exploration & Production, Inc.; Getty Oil
Company; Reserve Oil & Gas Company doing business as Getty Oil Company; Texaco
Reserve, Inc.; Triton Oil & Gas Co.; Worldwide Pacific Corporation; Kelt Oil
& Gas, Inc.; Kelt California, Inc.; and FPCO Oil & Gas Company, a dissolved
corporation, served as FPCO Oil & Gas Company, a Colorado corporation.
 Given the procedural posture in which this case comes before us, we accept as
true the allegations of fact made by Travelers.
 National Union Fire Insurance Company, as subrogee of Reuben's Restaurant
(another victim of the January 17, 1988, storm), filed an action in state court
against the City of Redondo Beach (National Union Fire Ins. Co. v. City of Redondo
Beach (Super. Ct. L.A. County, No. WEC 139017)). National Union also filed a separate
action against the United States of America (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) (National
Union Fire Ins. Co. v. United States (U.S. Dist. Ct (C.D.Cal.), 1988, No. CV-88-6962
MRP (Gx)). It was during discovery in this latter proceeding that the United States
Attorney identified the expert witness described above.
 Unless otherwise indicated, all statutory references are to the Code of Civil
As relevant to this matter, section 349 3/4, which was enacted in 1935, provides:
"[The periods prescribed for the commencement of actions other than for the
recovery of real property, are as follows: (§ 335.)] Within one hundred eighty days:
(a) An action to enjoin, abate, or for damages on account of, an underground trespass,
use or occupancy, by means of a well drilled for oil or gas or both from a surface
location on land other than real property in which the aggrieved party has some
right, title or interest or in respect to which the aggrieved party has some right,
title or interest. .... When any of said acts is by means of a new well the actual
drilling of which is commenced after this section becomes effective, and such act
was knowingly committed with actual intent to commit such act, the cause of action
in such case shall not be deemed to have accrued until the discovery, by the aggrieved
party, of the act or acts complained of; but in all other cases, and as to wells
heretofore or hereafter drilled, the cause of action shall be deemed to have accrued
ten days after the time when the well which is the subject of the cause of action
was first placed on production. Notwithstanding the continuing character of any
such act, there shall be but one cause of action for any such act, and the cause
of action shall accrue as aforesaid."
 Specifically, the court stated: "The demurrer of moving parties to the
Fifth and Tenth Causes of Action (negligence and nuisance) is over-ruled. [Travelers']
argument regarding the applicability of the statute of limitations is compelling.
Code of Civil Procedure § 349 3/4, both by its clear language and the interpretation
given it by the courts, appears to limit only those actions entailing claims for
damages which occurred as a result of an oil company's trespass under land owned
by the plaintiff. The causes of action demurred to are directed at the alleged subsidence
of the King Harbor breakwater and not of the Portofino Inn. Therefore, section 349
3/4 does not apply. The reliance of the demurring parties on Felburg v. Don Wilson
Builders [(1983) 142 Cal. App.3d 383 (191 Cal. Rptr. 92)] is misplaced. That case
involved damage to a home caused by the presence of an abandoned oil sump beneath
plaintiffs' house, not on some other property in which plaintiffs had no interest.
It further appears that the addition of the oil company defendants properly relates
back to the filing of the original Complaint. The negligence and nuisance causes
of action clearly relate to the same general set of facts and the same injury. The
request of the demurring parties that the Court apply the rule of Miller v. [Parker]
[(1933) 128 Cal. App. 775 (18 P.2d 89)] is inappropriate, because the plaintiff
in that action neglected to join a defendant of whose identity she was aware at
the time the action was originally filed."
 Respondents thus do not dispute that Travelers' subsequently filed causes
of action against them would "relate back" to the original filing date
provided that the original complaint was filed in a timely manner.
 It is not entirely clear what the Legislature meant by its reference to future
drilling trespasses "knowingly committed with actual intent to commit such
act." We assume without deciding that the phrase was meant to except from the
special provisions of the statute those drilling operations conducted after the
effective date of the statute where the drillers knew they were invading the property
of another and intended to do so. However, we need not address that question here.
We assume, arguendo, that any trespass resulting from respondents' drilling
operations was not done knowingly and intentionally. Travelers does not contend
 What Felburg did say was that section 349 3/4 "provides a statute of limitations
of 180 days for a cause of action based on damages occasioned by `a well drilled
for oil ... from a surface location on land other than [plaintiff's] real property....'"
This is a long way from bringing every possible cause of action which might arise
from a well drilling operation within the ambit of the 180-day limitation period.
Moreover, Felburg provided no analysis of section 349 3/4, nor did it examine its
legislative history. In light of such omissions, no substantial significance should
be given to the court's casual and imprecise shorthand phrase, "occasioned
by ...," in lieu of the full statutory language.
 We tend to agree with Travelers' characterization of this quoted phrase,
which is used in the uncodified Declaration of Policy enacted in connection with
section 349 3/4. The departure of a well from the "vertical" clearly describes
a "slant" drilling operation. The alternative term "or otherwise"
could well refer to the other drilling technique often used to accomplish the same
end. It is known as "whipstocking."
 We recognize that the court in Puckett v. Sullivan, supra, held that a property
owner is not deprived of a cause of action against an owner of a noncontiguous parcel
if such person negligently deprived the plaintiff's land of lateral support.
However, any cause of action which Travelers has against the oil companies on this
theory is subsumed within its already existing negligence cause of action; it would
be redundant to restate it in a separate count for negligent interference with support.
 The case they cite for this proposition does not so hold. (See Slaven v. BP
America, Inc. (C.D.Cal. 1992) 786 F. Supp. 853, 865.)