Goleta Pier, at Goleta Beach Park, is a more important community resource than most folks understand. It serves as a recreational adventure, a pleasant place for a walk on the water, a place to study the ocean environs and critters, and a facility for hoist-launching small boats. It is also one of our most treasured local fishing resources. Sadly, the pier was closed after the powerful winter storm of early March, better than a month ago. Even more sadly, it will be some time before it is open.
To understand the important of this spot, it must be known that a great number of subsistence fishers use the popular pier, where they can catch dinner with minimum expenditure. A fishing license is not needed to fish from a pier, so that is another savings for subsistence anglers.
Displacing these folks by closing the pier for prolonged study and repairs is not an easy matter because Goleta Pier is one of the most productive and revered fishing hotspots among all of our coastal piers. The reason is that there is a rock-covered pipeline running alongside it, within casting distance and holding a tremendous population of tasty, nutritious fish.
Besides subsistence fishers, the pier serves as a popular fishing spot for hundreds of recreational anglers, and the boat hoist, halfway along the pier, puts small boats in the water so that boaters can fish and explore nearby waters.
That caught the attention of Ken Jones, president of the United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC). He and this writer have been collaborating on this issue, and we have been in contact with Paddy Langlands, deputy parks director for the County of Santa Barbara. This issue affects the pier fishers Jones represents, and it detrimentally affects business at my own store, Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center in Santa Barbara.
According to Langlands, after the storm damage was sustained, an engineering company looked at the pier and recommended closure. Now, well more than a month later, the county still awaits a recommendation on repairs. Once that is in hand, the county will go through a process to select and retain a contractor to make the repairs. Even if they use an expedited process to select a contractor, rather than going through a lengthy request for proposals and selection process, the pier will remained closed for at least another month and possibly much longer, because the repairs are substantial and large parts must be fabricated.
In the past, when the pier has sustained damage, there were workarounds to allow the public to walk on and fish from the pier, with only portions being closed while work was under way.
With today’s risk-avoidance mindset, the engineering company simply recommended complete closure. No surprise there. After all, they have no vested interest in keeping it open to serve those who need the pier. Of course, the county doesn’t want someone potentially hurt when it had been recommended that the pier be closed. So it is shut down, whether it is fishable or not.
One might ask why not send the anglers elsewhere. Well, another pier resource is Gaviota Pier, which is also closed for repairs. The only other option is Stearns Wharf, which is generally considered inferior as a fishing destination. Again, Goleta Pier is a magical fishing spot because of nearby habitat, including the rock-covered pipeline alongside it.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.