Santa Barbara celebrated the reopening of the Mesa Lane beach-access steps on Monday, after workers finished replacing the lowest stair segment and making improvements to the 242-step climb and walkway earlier this month.
Erosion threatened to close the steps, which are the only beach access for a mile in either direction, so the city contributed money to the project, Mayor Helene Schneider said.
The State Coastal Conservancy voted to contribute $200,000 to the public stairway project, which Schneider said made the project a reality.
“It’s a great place just to take a breather — and you breathe harder on the way up than the way down!” Schneider said.
The access connects the Mesa neighborhood with beaches that stretch from Goleta to Carpinteria. It’s part of the network of parks and open space in the area that include Douglas Family Preserve, Elings Park, Arroyo Burro County Beach Park, La Mesa Park and Shoreline Park.
The stairway was repaired to California Coastal Commission requirements, so it should last at least 50 years, including a 50-year storm or 50 years worth of rising sea levels, according to Jill Zachary, assistant parks and recreation director for the city.
Construction took only a month, and the stairs opened to the public Nov. 9, she said.
Schneider, council members and Zachary thanked the city departments and workers who helped with the project, and noted that the County of Santa Barbara let the city base its construction operations from Arroyo Burro Beach for easier access.