Mitch Ward – Beaches and Harbors Commissioner
Mitch Ward describes himself as a fisherman and outdoorsman. “The beaches, ocean and open environment makes me who I am,” he said.
Ward is a former Manhattan Beach City Councilman who twice served as the city’s mayor. He was the co-chair of the City of Manhattan Beach’s first environmental committee and from 2009-11 served as a commission member on the Energy & Environmental Commission at the Southern California Association of Governments. He also served the Los Angeles Sanitation District Board.
When Ward was Manhattan Beach mayor in 2006, a sewage spill threatened the pristine beaches and coastal environment. He worked with city staff to deploy public works employees to stop the sewage flow to the ocean. In that same year, he spearheaded an emergency notification system through the sanitation disctrict that would alert municipalities when a sewage spill was occurring.
Ward also lead an initiative in 2006 to rename the historic beach front park located at North Highland Avenue and 27th Street as Bruces Beach in honor of one of the first African-American families who settled in Manhattan Beach. The Bruces ran a first-of-its-kind West Coast resort for people of color in the early 1900s. “This effort to preserve a small segment of our beach history is what I am most proud,” he said.
In 2010, Ward worked with Evelyn Frey, a Manhattan Beach activist, to extend a “walk way to the sea” in the El Porto area for seniors. Frey’s research convinced Ward and others that a solid walk platform across the beach would make it easier for seniors to make their way to the water’s edge.What makes South Bay beaches most special, according to Ward is that they are not overly crowded, there’s ease of access and our residents don’t mind sharing the sand with visitors.
“Our beaches attract future residents and many visitors to our town,” said Ward. “I always think of someone in a place like Nebraska who is land locked and surrounded by agriculture. We here at the ocean may take the beaches and waters for granted because we see them every day. But I still remember the first day I saw the ocean when I was growing up and it’s a memory I will never forget. So when I’m at the beach I know someone inland is wishing they were right where I am. And that’s when I curl my toes a little further in the sand and smile and think how fortunate we are to live in Manhattan Beach.”
The above article was originally published in the weekly newspaper The Beach Reporter.