Stretching for more than 30 miles of Santa Barbara County’s South Coast, the Gaviota Coast is one of the most pristine segments of coastline in Southern California. The Gaviota Coast supports three state park beach campgrounds — El Capitan, Refugio and Gaviota — thousands of acres of state park wilderness and more than 15,000 acres of Los Padres National Forest.
“However, tens of thousands of acres of privately owned land zoned for agricultural use surround and separate these state and federal lands,” SBTC President Otis Calef said. “Pending development proposals for a number of these ranches situated between the Bacara Resort and El Capitan State Beach could jeopardize future public access.”
Santa Barbara County’s Local Coastal Plan identifies the Gaviota Coast as a recreational resource of statewide importance. A key proposal contained in this local coastal plan is the completion of the California Coastal Trail along the entire Gaviota coast. Santa Barbara County is also preparing an updated Gaviota Plan to guide future use and development of the Gaviota coast, including the Coastal Trail.
The convergence of these pending developments and long-range planning offers an unprecedented opportunity for the development of one of the most scenic segments of the CCT in the state and improved vertical coastal access points. However, missteps and a lack of leadership from the county along with resistance from some developers threaten some of the most important segments of the CCT and may lead to inadequate or inappropriate coastal access.
Learn more this Wednesday night about the challenges and opportunities for public access to the Gaviota coast and what you can do to support future access.
— Ray Ford represents the Santa Barbara Trails Council.