Museum Lobby

Old Salt Lake | Virtual Museum

Epic Footprint of the 1909 Huntington Breakwater - report

Part 2


Also see:
 |  Part 1 - Introduction
 |  Part 2 - More resources
 |  Part 3 - Piling Graveyard
 |  Part 4 - 1912 Redondo Harbor Report


More resources

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 Monica Bay.
        
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 above photos.
   
  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, “ Semi-precious 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
 
   
  1900 Photo
 
   
  1909 photo
 
   
  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
 
  04/06/1911
   
   
   
   
  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

(Detail)
   
  1968, Nautical Chart, NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, Historical Map & Chart Project, [detail]
 
   
  2006, Subsidence of the King Harbor Breakwater at Redondo Beach
by Jeffrey Johnson, Robert Dill, Hany Elwany, Ron Flick, Neil Marshall
Download  (PDF 4 MB) Source: Coastal Environments - URL
   
  1954, " 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."
   
  1887, Natural Advantages of Redondo Beach for the Accommodation of Deep-See Commerce
 
Excerpts:

"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.
December, 1887.
_____________________

"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"

Page 13:

"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 remain open.

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 encountered."

 __________________________

"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"

Page 36:

"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.


Page 41:

"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 and disappointment."

 _________________

"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" …
   
  1907, Letter for Application and Notice of Franchise , Source: City of Redondo Beach
 
Excerpt:

"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.
 
Excerpt:

"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.-

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 limitations.

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 plant.

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 limitations."
   
  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" activity.
 
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. Rptr.2d 337

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.

COUNSEL
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.

OPINION
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[1] 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 the order.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[2]
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,[3] 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[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.[5] 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.

CONTENTIONS
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.[6] 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.

DISCUSSION
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.[7] The statute does not have the remotest application to Travelers' nontrespassory causes of action.

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,[8] and certainly its unremarkable holding provides no support whatever for respondents' position.

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,"[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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, italics added.)

DISPOSITION
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.

[1] 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.

[2] Given the procedural posture in which this case comes before us, we accept as true the allegations of fact made by Travelers.

[3] 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.

[4] Unless otherwise indicated, all statutory references are to the Code of Civil Procedure.

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."

[5] 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."

[6] 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.

[7] 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 otherwise.

[8] 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.

[9] 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."

[10] 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.

[11] 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.)


1984, "Shore Protection Manual, Volume II", Coastal Engineering Research Center, Department of the Army

[ Images of the Redondo shoreline study pages excerpted below ]