Southern California Beach Valuation Project
This multi-agency effort was initiated by two offices in NOAA, The National Ocean Service's Special Projects Office and the Damage Assessment Center, for the purpose of estimating the market and nonmarket values of recreation uses of Southern California Beaches, beach visitation, the effect of beach attributes, substitution issues, and profiles of beach users on values. The project resulted in a system to use this information to estimate values for any beach in the region.
In 1998, NOAA entered into cooperative agreements with the State of California Water Resources Control Board, the California Department of Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Program, and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation.
In 2001, the U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Minerals Management Service, joined the cooperative effort and provided funding to extend the collection of attribute data to Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties with plans to use these attributes data to conduct a benefits transfer of values from Los Angeles and Orange Counties to the tri-county region.
Ultimately, MMS was forced to withdraw funds for the full benefits transfer to Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties because of delays in completion of the work in Los Angeles and Orange Counties and other agency priorities. While the San Diego Regional Water Resources Control Board had considered sponsoring an extension of the project to San Diego beaches, the Board finally decided that a study by Daniel Lew and Douglas Larson at the University at California, Davis for the California Department of Transportation met their needs.
Scope and Purpose
The initial scope and purpose of the Southern California Beach Valuation Project included the following goals:
- Estimate the public values (nonmarket) of recreational uses of Southern California (Los Angeles and Orange Counties) beaches.
- Estimate the market economic values related to recreational beach use in California as measured by sales, output, income, and employment to local/regional economies.
- Estimate beach visitation.
- Estimate how beach attributes (especially water quality), seasonality, and socioeconomic factors affect both market and nonmarket economic values derived from beach recreation. This required compilation of an inventory of beach attributes.
- Use the information compiled in (1) through (4) above to develop a system to permit the estimation of public values at any beach in the region using attributes and socioeconomic factors for a particular beach. The system was intended to allow analysts to evaluate beach closures, water quality changes and investments in other beach attributes.
- Develop profiles of beach users including information on age, sex, race/ethnicity, household income, household size, place of residence, education, activity participation, and spending in local and regional economies.
Not only have multiple agencies partnered to fund the project; multiple researchers were hired to conduct it. The lead principal investigator is Professor Michael Hanemann of the University of California-Berkeley. Other principal investigators include Dr. Linwood Pendleton of the University of California - Los Angeles (formerly of the University of Southern California), Dr. David Layton, formerly of the University of California-Davis, currently at the University of Washington, Dr. Craig Mohn, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-Berkeley, and Mr. James Hilger, a NOAA NMFS Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California-Berkeley.
Surveys and Modeling
The project applied state-of-the-art survey sampling techniques in data gathering and economic modeling. Surveys of an approximately 900-member panel were conducted over six two-month time periods, to capture seasonality of use. The 900-member panel was recruited in an initial survey of the general Southern California population (beach goers and non-beachgoers). State-of-the-art random utility models were tested to explore issues of predicting changes in the total use and nonmarket use value of beaches, and substitution across sites in response to changes in either user or site characteristics (e.g., beach closures due to oil, sewage or chemical spills, storm water runoff, erosion control/beach renourishment).
A database was compiled on all beaches in the study area. This database includes a variety of beach attributes along with beach visitation estimates when available. This information was placed in a geographic information system (GIS) using Arc View software. The Los Angeles and Orange Counties databases and GIS have now been completed.
The project was conducted in two phases. Phase 1 included collection of all data and preliminary evaluations of the data and testing of various models on portions of the data. Phase 2 involved testing and development of final models on the full data set; development of a final preferred, peer reviewed model; an electronic model for agency use in evaluating policy/management scenarios; and a peer reviewed report demonstrating the use of the model on five policy/management scenarios.
The project has been completed for Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Click here for details.