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Latest News in Orange Cove, CA

Where is the Orange County oil spill moving, and which beaches are threatened?

The massive oil spill from a 126,000-gallon leak off the Orange County coast is moving south, threatening marine protected areas as well as popular beaches.The oil will likely continue to encroach on Orange County beaches for the next few days, officials said.Here is a breakdown of what we know:Newport BeachSoftball-sized clumps have washe...

The massive oil spill from a 126,000-gallon leak off the Orange County coast is moving south, threatening marine protected areas as well as popular beaches.

The oil will likely continue to encroach on Orange County beaches for the next few days, officials said.

Here is a breakdown of what we know:

Newport Beach

Softball-sized clumps have washed ashore between the mouth of the Santa Ana River and 52nd Street. Much of the slick remains about a quarter-mile offshore, city spokesman John Pope said. Newport Beach officials closed the city’s recreational harbor Monday morning in an effort to stem the spread of the oil.

“We don’t have oil in there right now, so a huge priority is keeping oil from getting into the harbor,” Pope said.

Newport Beach has not closed its beaches, but officials have asked people to stay out of the water. The Orange County Health Care Agency issued a health advisory Sunday recommending that those who may have encountered oil in the water seek medical attention.

Crystal Cove

The Crystal Cove beach had not reported any oil as of early Monday, but officials say that could change depending on the ocean currents throughout the day.

Coast Guard officials are flying over the spill three to four times a day to map the oil’s direction and compare it with tides, currents and winds to project the potential impact to beaches to the south.

“It really is dependent on the prevailing weather conditions, but the oil continues to move in a southerly direction,” said Capt. Rebecca Ore, commander of the USCG Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach.

Officials had feared Sunday night that the slick was headed south, threatening the pristine marine area.

Laguna Beach

In Laguna Beach, officials say roughly golf ball-sized pieces of tar have washed up along Crescent Bay, a beach known for its distinctive cove that runs about a quarter-mile, where Cliff Drive intercepts North Coast Highway, and Shaw’s Cove.

“Right now it varies. The oil clusters range from the size of a quarter to just particle-size droplets,” said Kevin Snow, chief of marine safety for Laguna Beach. “Beach closures are needed to protect the health and safety of the public and to allow contractors to begin oil cleanup.”

Laguna Beach closed city beaches Sunday night.

Two contracted oil-recovery vessels known as skimmers worked off the coast of Laguna Beach overnight to prevent as much of the oil from coming ashore as possible, Snow said.

“The entire city is a marine-protected area, which means we have sensitive marine habitat and wildlife here that is protected,” he said, “and we need resources to protect this unique ecosystem.”

Huntington Beach

So far, this city’s coast has been hardest hit.

A 5½-mile stretch of sand in Huntington Beach from Seapoint Street near the Bolsa Chica wetlands to the Newport Beach city line at the Santa Ana River jetty remained closed Monday as crews continued cleanup efforts.

Crews deployed 2,050 feet of booms to try to stop further incursion and protect sensitive wildlife areas, including Talbert Marsh, a 25-acre ecological reserve across from Huntington State Beach that is home to dozens of species of birds.

County officials also built large sand berms in the area to keep ocean water and oil from continuing to flow into the habitat, which has already been breached by oil. Officials on Sunday requested additional booms to protect the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

Bolsa Chica

The state beach to the north of Huntington Beach remained open and is currently not under threat as the oil slick moves south.

Dana Point

This South County beach and harbor community has not seen any closures yet. But the area was covered by a state-imposed ban on fishing and collecting shellfish that stretched north to Huntington Beach.

“The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has determined that a threat to public health is likely by fishing in the affected area or consuming fish or shellfish that may have been affected by the spill,” the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a news release Monday.

Like the team, Monache fans gave it their all

They screamed and shouted words of encouragement for two hours, but when the Southern California State Division 4 Championship softball game at Monache High School between the Lady Marauders and Orange Cove Titans was over on Saturday, the afternoon didn't end as the team or fans desired.But that didn't keep the MHS family, friends and fans from pouring love all over the East Yosemite League champion team.“We’ll be focusing on the positive outcome and getting ready for (travel ball)” said Ashley Haslam, mother...

They screamed and shouted words of encouragement for two hours, but when the Southern California State Division 4 Championship softball game at Monache High School between the Lady Marauders and Orange Cove Titans was over on Saturday, the afternoon didn't end as the team or fans desired.

But that didn't keep the MHS family, friends and fans from pouring love all over the East Yosemite League champion team.

“We’ll be focusing on the positive outcome and getting ready for (travel ball)” said Ashley Haslam, mother of freshman infielder Makenzie Haslam. “We came to all of the games. They played hard. Next year, we’ll do it again.”

It was a sentiment heard again and again after the game.

“They played hard,” Renee Hunter, mother of pitcher Morgan Hunter, also said as she shook her head. “We’ll win it next year. They tried hard.”

One thing was certain — the fans, family and friends of the 16-member team, never stopped their enthusiastic shouts. It was obvious they loved their team.

“Let’s go, Marauders,” “Nice pitch, Morgan,” “Nice contact,” and “Oh, Yes!” could be heard again and again as the game got underway.

With no scoring by either team until the top of the third inning when the Titans scored 3 runs, the score didn't discourage those watching the Lady Marauders. Instead, the encouragement by the fans only got louder.

And at the bottom of the fourth inning — the comeback inning — when the Marauders took a 6-4 lead, the fans went crazy — jumping and shouting and ringing bells. One man could be seen and heard on his cell phone, enthusiastically giving details of the plays to someone on the other side of the line. In the distance, one could see a few young fans sitting on top of the ledge of a fence, watching and waving their arms in enthusiasm.

“MHS! MHS! MHS! MHS!” Fans clapped and chanted over and over as gold and blue balloons decorating the bleachers moved with the wind, appearing as if dancing in tune to the chant.

At the top of the sixth, even with Orange Cove scoring another run, Monache still led 6-5 but were unable to add more runs during their time at bat.

Orange Cove rallied, took an 8-6 lead at the top of the seventh, leaving the Lady Marauders battling from behind. But the fan support didn't stop, yelling words of encouragement to the end.

And as the Orange Cove crowd cheered and celebrated, the Marauder fans continued to offer words of encouragement — telling the team to hold their heads high, that they did amazing, and that they were loved.

"I am so proud of how hard this talented group of young ladies played this season,” said MHS Principal Eric Barba. “They’ve represented Monache with pride, not only this game but this entire season.”

New low-income senior apartments coming to Huntington Beach

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley has seen the importance of affordable housing for seniors in her own family. She had a 95-year-old grandmother and 75-year-old mom who both needed to find housing after their respective spouses passed away.A new development soon to take shape in Huntington Beach, nestled away on an “L”-shaped vacant lot off of Beach Boulevard, offers a possible solution for situations like these.A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday morning for the affordable housing development, which h...

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley has seen the importance of affordable housing for seniors in her own family. She had a 95-year-old grandmother and 75-year-old mom who both needed to find housing after their respective spouses passed away.

A new development soon to take shape in Huntington Beach, nestled away on an “L”-shaped vacant lot off of Beach Boulevard, offers a possible solution for situations like these.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday morning for the affordable housing development, which has a working name of Huntington Beach Seniors. Irvine-based Jamboree Housing Corp. is managing the property in a joint venture with USA Properties Fund, in partnership with the city, county and the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

According to Jamboree officials, Huntington Beach Seniors, located at 18431 Beach Blvd. near Five Points and behind Allen Tire Co., will be a four-story apartment complex with 43 one-bedroom homes for seniors. The majority of the homes, 33, will be permanent supportive housing for seniors experiencing homelessness.

Project-based vouchers will be provided by the county. Residents will pay a portion of the rent based on household site and income level.

Nine of the apartments will serve low-income seniors, and there will also be a full-time case manager and part-time supportive services coordinator on site. Additionally, there will be 3,800-square feet of community space and a 2,300-square foot outdoor courtyard and small pet park.

“It’s super-important that we continue to find these infill sites, and that the county continue to invest,” Foley said. “We have an unprecedented amount of funding coming from the state and federal government right now, and we need to just get it out into the community and get housing built where appropriate … These 43 units are going to provide much-needed housing. It will make a small dent, but I think it will be a model that we can use in other places.”

Jamboree President and CEO Laura Archuleta said her nonprofit organization has a good relationship with the city of Huntington Beach. In 2007, Jamboree partnered with the city to convert and renovate 19 homes in the Oak View community to serve low-income families.

Four years later, Jamboree acquired and renovated Emerald Cove, a 164-unit apartment community off of Talbert Avenue.

“We know that there is quite a bit of demand for senior housing in Orange County, specifically here in Huntington Beach,” Archuleta said. “There’s a lot of single-family homes here, people raise their kids and they want to stay in the community. By building senior housing, it allows them the opportunity to sell their home and move into something else. This property specifically is for folks at the very-low income range.”

The recently completed 2022 Orange County Point in Time count found 718 seniors experiencing homelessness, up from 612 three years earlier and contrasting the overall decrease in homelessness found.

Total development costs for the .78-acre Huntington Beach Seniors complex, slated to open in October 2023, are nearly $31 million. U.S. Bank has a large stake, providing $23.8 million in construction financing and $13.3 million in tax credit equity.

Architecture Design Collaborative is the architect, while Quality Development and Construction, Inc. is the general contractor.

Special guests at Wednesday’s ceremony included Foley, Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize and City Council members Natalie Moser and Rhonda Bolton. Jack Du, representing Supervisor Andrew Do, also spoke.

As Huntington Beach skews older — according to the Office on Aging Orange County Area Plan for 2020-2024, Surf City has the second-highest number of residents aged 65 or older in the county — Delgleize said developments like Huntington Beach Seniors become more important.

“What I’m seeing in the community myself is that a lot of people are retired,” Delgleize said. “If they lose their spouse, they sometimes — not always — end up in a giant house by themselves. They close all the doors except the family room and live downstairs. One of the things that’s wonderful about a community such as this is the people. I think this is a way to help them not feel so alone.”

Softball: El Diamante enters league on a roll

Miners win five of last six games as they prepare to begin league play next weekVISALIA – El Diamante will emerge from non-league play with a winning record after winning five of their last six games. The streak started March 15 with a close contest against the Orange Cove Titans.Stellar defense and solid pitching kept the Miners in the game long enough for El Diamante to manufacture runs in late innings. El Diamante’s defense was incredibly solid, not one error was recorded against them. Every grou...

Miners win five of last six games as they prepare to begin league play next week

VISALIA – El Diamante will emerge from non-league play with a winning record after winning five of their last six games. The streak started March 15 with a close contest against the Orange Cove Titans.

Stellar defense and solid pitching kept the Miners in the game long enough for El Diamante to manufacture runs in late innings. El Diamante’s defense was incredibly solid, not one error was recorded against them. Every ground ball was fielded and every flyball was caught.

It was the Miners’ offense which kept the game tight, as the team hit a lot of infield grounders. The middle innings were a struggle for the Miners who seemed to get the ball rolling in the first inning. After leadoff hitter Karlie Bilbrey was walked to first, Hope Ficher laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Bilbrey to third base. Jennavee Campos hit a flyball to center field that was caught, but allowed Bilbrey to tag up and head home for 1-0 Miners lead.

The Titans did most of their damage in the second inning. El Diamante starting pitcher Page Martinez found herself in a difficult spot. With runners on first and second, the Titans hit a double to the left-center field gap scoring in the two runs, giving Orange Cove a 2-1 lead. It was the only lapse in game for the Miners defense.

El Diamante was able to tie up the game in the bottom of the fourth. Jorja Moreno got things started with a single off of an Orange Cove error. Moreno then stole second to put herself in scoring position. Avery Contreras singled to move Moreno to third and then stole second base. Jamie Ramiscal grounded out to shortstop for the first out of the inning but got the RBI when Moreno scored. The rally ended with two quick outs.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Miners’ Mikayla Moreno singled to left field. Bilbrey laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Moreno to second base. Ficher came up to bat again, grounding out to third but moving Moreno into scoring position. Moreno scored her second run of the game on a sacrifice fly to center field, giving El Diamante a 3-2 lead.

After a scoreless sixth inning, El Diamante’s Karlie Bilbrey retired the side in the top of the seventh to close out the 3-2 win.

El Diamante will end non-league play with a winning record as they are 8-4 with one game left to play. The Miners will face the Clovis Cougars on March 24 in Clovis before beginning league play in April.

Almost $3 million spent on Crystal Cove cottage rehabs in 2021, conservancy reports

Historic cottages at Crystal Cove in Newport Beach received nearly $3 million in restoration work last year, according to a report issued by the the nonprofit responsible for the preservation of the state beach.In its annual impact report issued earlier this month, the Crystal Cove Conservancy said that in 2021 a total of $4.4 million was invested in the improvement and maintenance of the property where the seaside cottages were constructed between the 1920s and 1940s, with $2.8 million of that spent on actual cottage restoration work...

Historic cottages at Crystal Cove in Newport Beach received nearly $3 million in restoration work last year, according to a report issued by the the nonprofit responsible for the preservation of the state beach.

In its annual impact report issued earlier this month, the Crystal Cove Conservancy said that in 2021 a total of $4.4 million was invested in the improvement and maintenance of the property where the seaside cottages were constructed between the 1920s and 1940s, with $2.8 million of that spent on actual cottage restoration work.

About 28 of the 45 existing cottages, including the Japanese language schoolhouse known at the site as Cottage #34, have seen restoration. The 17 remaining cottages have sat unoccupied and left to deteriorate behind a chain-link fence for some 20 years, but restoration efforts on those buildings have been undertaken by the Heritage Legacy Project for California.

Five of the cottages were mostly restored and are “in great shape,” according to director of advancement Cindy Otto, who noted that pending work includes outfitting each with era-appropriate furniture and installing new window treatments.

“They still probably won’t open until the fourth quarter this year, but we’ll open them as we go,” said Otto.

Otto said renovations chiefly deal with four to five cottages at a time. With four finishing up this year, the next four will be taken on.

While several cottages are available to the public for overnight rentals now — and are very much in demand — it will be a few years before all 45 cottages will be ready and available to rent.

Rental fees are earmarked for maintaining the state beach’s historic structures and funding special projects. Leftover funds are passed through to support K-12 STEM educational programs.

Conservancy president and chief executive officer Kate Wheeler confirmed in a statement that the funding for the restoration efforts is mostly secured, though the nonprofit expects the gap remaining will be filled with historic tax credit revenue.

“But that is a very complex process, which will take some time to complete, but our sense is that there will be enough revenue secured to complete the funding required,” said Wheeler.

Updating the infrastructure for the 17 unoccupied cottages was completed in November 2020. Initial estimates for their restoration was placed at $45 million. More than $25 million of that has been secured by the conservancy, according to the nonprofit’s website.

Numbers reported for the fiscal year of 2020-21 indicate the conservancy earned about $8 million in revenue in 2021, with close to $7 million spent in that same calendar year.

The conservancy also reported at least 650 feet of boardwalk has been built and about 9,000 students attended educational programs at Crystal Cove in 2021. Otto said the conservancy launched two new programs in the last year for students: including one called “The Trouble with Trash” for kindergarten through second grade about plastic pollution and the “Fire Ecology Internship,” which is run in conjunction with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.

That program invites high schoolers to study the impact of fire on Orange County’s wildlife and urban areas.

“We are delighted to see the North Beach restoration so far along and with so much support,” said Wheeler. “With the heavy lift on that project behind us and the first five North Beach units coming online, we all have our heads down planning for what’s next: stepping into a more expansive role in supporting parks in land stewardship and conservation work, fully developing our coastal engineering programs, and finding new ways to include diverse communities, including Indigenous communities, into the work.”

Here’s the first announced challenger to Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes

José Ramírez – who was 28 years old when he became city manager of Orange Cove and later took that role in Firebaugh and Livingston – has his eyes set on writing history: Becoming the first Latino living outside the City of Fresno to serve on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.To do that, he must defeat two-term incumbent Buddy Mendes in District 4, whose map remains little changed since Ramírez grew up in a since-eliminated labor camp near Raisin City and attended Washington Union High School....

José Ramírez – who was 28 years old when he became city manager of Orange Cove and later took that role in Firebaugh and Livingston – has his eyes set on writing history: Becoming the first Latino living outside the City of Fresno to serve on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.

To do that, he must defeat two-term incumbent Buddy Mendes in District 4, whose map remains little changed since Ramírez grew up in a since-eliminated labor camp near Raisin City and attended Washington Union High School.

Ramírez, 50, announced his candidacy Thursday morning in front of the Fresno County Hall of Records, which houses the board. Among those expressing their support for Ramírez were former Assemblymember Juan Arámbula, who also served on the board.

“I’m a practical and effective leader who knows how to get things done,” said Ramírez at his kickoff event. “It’s about bringing new voices to the board. It’s about putting people over politics,” he said.

Mendes, a farmer in the Riverdale area, defeated Fowler City Councilmember Daniel Parra in 2014, and ran unopposed in 2018. Parra has expressed interest in running again.

Ramírez, who has filed a lawsuit against the Livingston City Council after it fired him last July in a move criticized by residents and county elected officials, lives in Selma. He lived in Fresno and commuted to Livingston for seven of the eight years he served the Merced County city.

“I’ve been a champion for the Valley,” said Ramírez in a Wednesday evening interview. He decided to run for supervisor after listening to community leaders. “I can make a difference here.”

Ramírez – whose endorsements include former Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante and former Los Ángeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – expects to raise $500,000 for a winning campaign.

“I understand and know the needs of the county and the region,” said Ramírez, who has a bachelor’s degree in construction management and a master’s degree in public administration from Fresno State.

“I’m running because I know how to get people resources; because I know that there’s a lot more state and federal resources that we can actually bring to our county,” said Ramírez, a father of six children ages 13 to 23.

Ramírez said he is very familiar with the district and its needs. District 4 is largely rural but includes nine of the county’s 15 cities. Driving from Coalinga on the west side of the district to Orange Cove on the east side can take more than 1½ hours.

The district is 74% Latino, but only 62% are voting-age citizens. In the November 2020 election, Latinos accounted for an estimated 57% of voters.

If Ramírez wins, Fresno County, with a 53.6% Latino population, would have two Latinos on the board of supervisors at the same time for the first time. (Supervisor Sal Quintero’s term is through 2025).

Ramírez, who has been active with the Fresno Latino Rotary Club, founded Community Development Inc. in 2015. The company handles project development, affordable housing and consulting.

He worked for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation before he went into public administration.

“Public service is in my DNA,” said Ramírez, who developed an interest in city government as a college intern for Clovis when he was encouraged by city manager Kathy Millison to go into public administration.

“I found out it’s about getting people the resources they need,” he said. “I consider myself a social entrepreneur, helping people and helping people help themselves.”

Arámbula, at Thursday’s press conference, praised Ramírez’s background.

“Ramírez knows how to get things done. He doesn’t yell at people. He listens and he works with everyone to make things better,” said Arámbula. “He brings a successful career as a city manager, a private businessman, a philanthropist, and a civic leader to the board of supervisors.”

Esta historia fue publicada originalmente el 27 de enero de 2022 1:06 pm.

Water witches in high demand amid California drought

ORANGE COVE, Calif. — Standing in the middle of a 400-acre ranch, Rob Thompson pulled out two L-shaped steel rods and held them perpendicular to the ground.“I’m grounding,” he said. “It’s kind of like rebooting the computer.”What You Need To Know Thompson then lifted them up and began rotating in a circle, waiting for them to cross.“See that? Now that’s ...

ORANGE COVE, Calif. — Standing in the middle of a 400-acre ranch, Rob Thompson pulled out two L-shaped steel rods and held them perpendicular to the ground.

“I’m grounding,” he said. “It’s kind of like rebooting the computer.”

What You Need To Know

Thompson then lifted them up and began rotating in a circle, waiting for them to cross.

“See that? Now that’s a keeper,” he said.

Thompson is a water witch who says he can find underground reservoirs and even pinpoint how far down to drill.

“To me, it’s like magnetism,” he said. “It’s like the energy between two magnets when they just pull you together.”

Water witching, also known as dowsing or divining, dates back to the Middle Ages. The American Society of Dowsers says it has about 2,000 members, many of them are working water witches. And while there is no science to back it up, it hasn’t stopped many of California’s top farmers and wineries from shelling out big bucks for their services.

“Some people scratch their heads. A lot of people laugh at me. It’s funny until they call me,” Thompson said.

Thompson charges $1,500 for the first two hours and another $650 for each additional hour. While that’s no chump change, it’s still a fraction of what it would cost to hire a hydrogeologist.

So far, this has been Thompson’s busiest year yet, as California faces a crippling drought that has left its water reservoirs depleted.

On a cloudy February morning, Thompson arrived at a plum ranch about 30 minutes South East of Fresno, where water has reached dangerously low levels.

Mike Medders, the ranch manager, said finding water was crucial, adding the ranch would be forced to make some “hard choices” if Thompson wasn’t able to locate underground wells. He admitted to being a bit skeptical about water witches at first. But a few years ago, someone had suggested hiring a one, and he decided to give it a try.

“He marked 17 wells for us, and 15 of them are still running today, so [he] made a believer out of me,” said Medders.

By the end of the day, Thompson identified 12 potential reservoirs, which he believes contain anywhere from 400 to 600 gallons per minute.

The ranch said it planned on drilling in those locations in about a month. If Thompson turns out to be right, it could triple their water supply.

Thompson said he wasn’t too worried, adding his success rate was at above 90%.

“There’s always the skeptics,” he said. “But it’s fun to prove them wrong.”

Newsom declares emergency as investigators probe whether anchor caused O.C. oil spill

The Coast Guard is investigating whether a large commercial ship set anchor in the wrong location, damaging an oil pipeline and causing the massive Orange County oil spill, an official familiar with the investigation told The Times Monday.The anchor dragged the pipeline as much as 150 feet, the official said. Vessels are given anchor points in order to avoid pipelines. Coast Guard investigators are examining whether the ship’s captain was aware of the dragging. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity.Earlier Monday...

The Coast Guard is investigating whether a large commercial ship set anchor in the wrong location, damaging an oil pipeline and causing the massive Orange County oil spill, an official familiar with the investigation told The Times Monday.

The anchor dragged the pipeline as much as 150 feet, the official said. Vessels are given anchor points in order to avoid pipelines. Coast Guard investigators are examining whether the ship’s captain was aware of the dragging. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier Monday, Martyn Willsher, president and chief executive of the pipeline operator’s parent company, said that a ship’s anchor striking the pipeline was “one of the distinct possibilities” for the spill.

“We have examined more than 8,000 feet of pipe and we have isolated one specific area of significant interest,” Willsher, the Amplify Energy Corp. executive, told reporters. “There’s more information to come, but I think we’re moving very closely to the source and the cause of this incident.”

The focus on a ship’s anchor came as officials up and down the Orange County coast kept watch on a large portion of the oil that had not yet reached shore, while crews worked furiously to contain the spread, employing booms and at times scooping oil up by hand from polluted beaches. Wildlife rescuers cared for animals coated in goo.

Late Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Orange County to help with the clean-up efforts.

“The state is moving to cut red tape and mobilize all available resources to protect public health and the environment,” Newsom said in a statement. “As California continues to lead the nation in phasing out fossil fuels and combating the climate crisis, this incident serves as a reminder of the enormous cost fossil fuels have on our communities and the environment.”

The spill, first reported Saturday morning, originated from a pipeline running from the Port of Long Beach to an offshore oil platform known as Elly. The failure caused roughly 126,000 gallons of oil to gush into the Catalina Channel, creating a slick that spanned about 8,320 acres.

The spill has left crude along stretches of sand in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach, killing fish and birds and threatening ecologically sensitive wetlands in what officials are calling an environmental catastrophe.

The oil will likely continue to encroach on Orange County beaches and environmentally sensitive habitats for the next few days, officials said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) said at a news conference Monday night that oil was making its way into his district, which includes southern Orange County and northern San Diego County. Officials saw oil at Dana Point Harbor, he added.

“There is no offshore drilling that is truly safe,” Levin said, adding that he’d introduced legislation to ban all offshore drilling.

Cargo ships heading to the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach frequently pass through the area where the spill occurred, officials said. During the pandemic, Southern California waters have seen gridlock as dozens of container ships at a time wait to get into the ports. It was unclear, however, how close those containers have been to the offshore oil systems.

Experts said investigators will need to inspect the pipeline and will have ample data to draw on in determining whether an anchor caused the spill — and if so, which ship it was.

The Marine Exchange of Southern California functions like a nautical version of air-traffic control, directing cargo ships to anchor at designated anchorages and tracking all vessels entering and leaving the ports, said James Fawcett, an adjunct professor of environmental studies at USC who is an expert in coastal regulations and ports.

Each anchorage is mapped with a circle around it so that the ship has enough space to swing around in the wind, he said. “Recently there have been times when the established anchorages were full and the Marine Exchange assigned ships into boxes that are further out in the harbor, further out to sea, that are not designated anchorages on the chart.”

The electronic charts that are used by captains of commercial ships show all the known underwater hazards to avoid, such as internet cables, power lines and pipelines, said Steven D. Browne, a professor of marine transportation at California State University Maritime Academy in Vallejo.

“As the captain is choosing a place to drop the anchor, the chart should be examined very carefully to make sure that it is a safe area,” Browne said. “It’s certainly a point of concern for a ship’s captain approaching an anchorage is, is it safe to drop the anchor at this particular spot?”

Browne said he isn’t familiar with specifics of the system at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, such as how offshore anchorages are handled.

“I imagine with the congestion of ships waiting to get into L.A.-Long Beach, that ships are anchoring in places that they don’t usually do so, further off the coast. So perhaps that is related to this incident, if that is what happened,” Browne said.

Coast Guard officials are flying over the spill three to four times a day to map the oil’s direction and compare it with tides, currents and winds to project the potential impact on beaches south of Laguna in the coming days. County and local officials say they’re poised to close more of the coast and the Dana Point harbor, if necessary.

In Laguna Beach, residents woke up to clusters of oil washing up along the sand.

Larger, golf-ball-sized pieces of tar have washed up along Crescent Bay, a beach known for its distinctive cove that runs about a quarter-mile in length from where Cliff Drive intercepts North Coast Highway, and along Shaw’s Cove.

Two contracted oil-recovery vessels known as skimmers worked off the coast of Laguna Beach overnight to prevent as much of the oil from coming ashore as possible, said Kevin Snow, chief of marine safety for Laguna Beach.

“The entire city is a marine-protected area, which means we have sensitive marine habitat and wildlife here that is protected, and we need resources to protect this unique ecosystem,” Snow said.

A few miles north, Newport Beach officials closed the city’s recreational harbor Monday morning in an effort to stem the spread of the oil, city spokesman John Pope said.

“We don’t have oil in there right now, so a huge priority is keeping oil from getting into the harbor,” Pope said.

Softball-sized clumps have washed ashore between the mouth of the Santa Ana River and 52nd Street. Much of the slick remains about a quarter-mile offshore, Pope said.

In Huntington Beach, which bore the brunt of the oil incursion Sunday, crews deployed 2,050 feet of booms to try to stop further incursion and protect sensitive wildlife areas, including Talbert Marsh, a 25-acre ecological reserve across from Huntington State Beach that is home to dozens of species of birds.

County officials also built large sand berms in the area to keep ocean water and oil from continuing to flow into the habitat, which has already been breached by oil.

A 5½-mile stretch of sand in Huntington Beach from Seapoint Street near the Bolsa Chica wetlands to the Newport Beach city line remained closed as crews continued cleanup efforts.

Officials involved in the spill response believed as of Saturday evening that oil had reached the waters off San Diego County, according to materials obtained by The Times.

Along the shore early Monday workers in reflective vests combed through the sand — at times on their hands and knees — scooping up oil and placing it into trash bags.

Teams from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network were on the beach at first light combing the area around Bolsa Chica State Beach and south to Laguna Beach, both in the water and on land, said Michael Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at UC Davis.

Officials found three oiled birds Sunday — a brown pelican, an American coot and a duck. The pelican had extensive injuries and had to be euthanized, he said. A fourth bird, a sanderling, was found Monday. There have also been multiple sightings of oiled gulls. The oiled birds were being treated at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, city officials said.

State wildlife officials announced a ban on fishing or collecting shellfish from Huntington Beach to Dana Point in the wake of the oil spill.

Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Seal Beach) sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday urging him to join her efforts in requesting a major disaster declaration for Orange County from President Biden. She sent a letter to the president Sunday seeking the declaration, which, if approved, would make additional federal assistance available for state and local agencies and individuals affected by the spill.

Questions also continue to swirl from residents about how long the pipeline was leaking. California and federal officials had strong indications of oil on the water off the Huntington Beach coast Friday evening, records reviewed by The Times show, more than 10 hours before the operator of an oil platform reported it to authorities.

During a news conference Monday afternoon, Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said he was disappointed that Amplify Energy Corp.'s own divers were investigating the pipeline rupture. That task should be undertaken by an independent agency, he said.

“If that is not done independently, that is a travesty,” he said.

At the news conference Monday night, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said the Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Wildlife are conducting their own investigation and will not rely on Amplify’s divers.

“We’re not going to rely on the company to investigate” itself, she said.

Times staff writers Anh Do, Robin Estrin and Gregory Yee contributed to this report.

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