You may have heard that our Santa Barbara County supervisors are ready to take out all the rocks that they installed in the last 20 years to save Goleta Beach Park, so it can slowly erode in the name of “managed retreat.” Regardless of the contradiction, there is a movement within the environmental community toward a philosophy that global warming and sea-level rises have and will continue to swallow any landward coastlines, so all coastal property owners beware.
A public hearing by county staff and the engineering consultants that released the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) was held on July 23 with more than two dozen members of the public speaking on the topic. The project, called Goleta Beach 2.0, would remove all the west-end rock revetments, take out more than 100 parking spots, move the utility corridor landward some 20 more yards, and potentially move the far western restroom after known future El Niño storms again ravage this coastline without protection.
Three individuals spoke for Surfrider Foundation and the Environmental Defense Center. While not specifically endorsing the project, the groups continue to throw their support for managed retreat as a solution that we all have to get over and accept as the right choice today.
The other 90 percent of the speakers, from all walks of life, questioned the validity of claims that catastrophic sea-evel rise is a clear and present danger in 2013 and warrants such draconian measures in the project.
The soundness of arguments can be summarized:
» If the predictions from modeling show 2050 and beyond as the critical mass of sea-level rises, then why do we have to kill this park today?
» The peak parking demand for access to all the amenities of this beach park should not be compromised by creating more beach.
» Why are our county supervisors not listening to their constituents instead of just hearing the environmental community? This large beach park is the Goleta Valley’s only true, free, accessible location to recreation, picnicking and other outdoor activities for the family, weddings, birthday parties, triathlons, etc.
» Why is the economic impact of the restaurant, outdoor activity rentals, access for tourist and UC Santa Barbara family visits, not considered?
» Why is there such a lack of communication on this DEIR and why will public input be closed Aug. 1 for such a important public facility that is visited by more than 1.5 million people a year?
» Why after spending more than $10 million in the last 10 years, do we need to spend another $4 million on the project when the current protection measures already installed are working?
There are alternatives that can and should be seriously considered as better solutions that are in the DEIR. For instance, Alternative 2 is a plan that would require permitting the existing revetments for 10 years, although 25 would be more realistic, and prototype alternative eco-friendly alternative revetments in locations on the west end not currently protected. The consultants documented within the DEIR that the existing unpermitted revetments are not detrimental to down-coast natural sand migration because of their high high-tide locations, and that until 2050 they really don’t harm the natural beauty of the park because they are currently buried under sand and earth.
The opportunity to weigh in on this important issue is now. Please send you comments to:
Planning Department, County of Santa Barbara,
123 E. Anapamu St.
Santa Barbara 93101-2058
Supervisor Janet Wolf, Second District
105 E. Anapamu St.
Santa Barbara 93101
— Michael Rattray represents Friends of Goleta Beach Park.