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Santa Barbara Celebrates Completion of Mesa Lane Beach Steps

Project to replace the lowest stair segment and make other improvements rehabilitates vital beach access for the city

City and county officials gather Monday to celebrate the opening of the refurbished Mesa Lane beach-access stairs in Santa Barbara.
City and county officials gather Monday to celebrate the opening of the refurbished Mesa Lane beach-access stairs in Santa Barbara.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

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 newly-renovated Mesa Lane steps provide a crucial access to the beach for Santa Barbara residents. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
The newly renovated Mesa Lane steps provide a crucial access to the beach for Santa Barbara residents. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

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.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 11.27.12 @ 02:24 PM

I think this is great. I was wondering if they were going to put in ugly concrete/steel steps all the way up, but they did only what was necessary and left the nice look of the wooden steps. Like it! Well done!

» on 11.27.12 @ 11:28 PM

Yes, the new, improved stairs look great.

Great for an erosion-prone, landslide-prone area, subject to storm surge, and
big winter storms.

After what Hurricane Sandy did on the East Coast the other day, why are all the
City officials so confident that these steps will still be here in 10-15 years, let
alone through a “50 year storm” or “50 years of sea level rise”?

Did the Noozhawk reporter ask them this?

How many times will we use scarce tax funds to rebuild coastal stairs certain to
be washed out, or landslided over, before this decade is out?

» on 11.28.12 @ 11:58 AM

If constructed properly, it would be possible to survive even a large land slide and 100 year storms (and I’m not saying it was). Sea level rise? Really, you believe sea levels are going to rise that much? Maybe in 2 or 3 hundred years and only if bio feedback mechanisms don’t moderate climate change sufficiently enough to slow it down. Also, the effects of hurricanes on flat coastal plains is significantly different from pacific storms relating to coastal bluffs to make your use of that tragedy a non sequitur in this situation.

» on 04.10.13 @ 10:11 PM

I believe that there are at least 243 steps at Mesa Lane steps. I’ve counted 242
steps many times. I poked around at the bottom, and I found another. Possibly,
there is another, farther down, buried under more sand. Now I’m going to have
to count them again. I’ll let you know, or you can let me know for sure. Probably
nobody really cares, but it’s just one of those things with me.

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