The unique dunes and beaches of southern Monterey Bay, California are threatened by an intensified rate of coastal erosion caused by the Lapis Lustre sand mine in the city of Marina. This mine excavates high quality sand sold by the largest international cement and aggregate corporation, Cemex. Like many extractive industries, Lapis’ sand production results in negative externalities for the environment. This study quantifies some of these externalities by examining non-market costs including seawall construction and lost recreational value of beach due to Lapis.
The annual cost of maintaining the existing seawalls at Ocean Harbor House and Monterey Beach Resort is $133,975. Any additional seawalls could increase this number to more than $256,562 annually. In addition, the cost of the recreational value of the beach area lost due to sand mining is currently $1,104,804 annually, and may rise to $1,122,970 annually in the future. These findings suggest that the non-market costs of the mine are significant, and would be even greater if a more diverse range of non-market costs were considered. This analysis fills a gap in information that should be considered in current and future decision-making regarding coastal resource use in Monterey County.
Extractive industries generally fail to recognize the full array of negative externalities for which they are responsible. Instead, the public bears the burden. This case study typifies just such a situation, as the high rate of coastal erosion will continue to threaten the economic and ecological well-being along the southern coast of Monterey Bay, and will most likely be further exacerbated by increasingly unpredictable effects of climate change and sea level rise. Without taking action to minimize the causes of coastal erosion in southern Monterey Bay, the future economic implications for Monterey County could be great, as the beach from Moss Landing to Monterey could be gone or highly fragmented within 50 years.3
According to a study by PWA, the main factor exacerbating shoreline erosion in southern Monterey Bay is hydraulic sand mining from the beach at the Lapis mine in Marina. The study indicates that the mining operations account for a reduction of approximately 200,000 yd3 of sand per year from the littoral cell, which would otherwise replenish the beaches up and down the coast. This volume of sand loss accounts for 2 ft of beach loss each year, which is approximately 50-75% of the ongoing erosion that occurs in southern Monterey Bay (PWA, 2008). The economic cost of the additional beach erosion that results from sand mining has not been accounted for in previous studies.
Pohl, Alyssum and Johnston, Lisa, "Lapis Sand Dollars: An Economic Analysis of Non-Market Impacts of Lapis Sand Mine in Southern Monterey Bay" (2012). Working Papers. 9.