In advance of what promises to be several hours of public comment on Tuesday, supervisorial candidate and Goleta City Councilman Roger Aceves took a few minutes on Monday to give his thoughts about what should be done to protect Goleta Beach Park, talking with reporters and the public about protecting the beach.
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will be deciding on Tuesday how to best protect the park, which has suffered from erosion in the past, most recently during storm waves caused several weeks ago during heavy rains.
The park is well-loved and well-used as a result, and rock revetments were installed to stop storms from destroying the park, but the California Coastal Commission has demanded a long-term strategy to deal with erosion.
The rocks are currently unpermitted because they were installed with emergency permits, now expired.
Aceves is running against Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, in whose district the park sits, and Aceves has made the preservation of the park a signature issue in his campaign.
Members of the Goleta City Council said last week that they'll take legal action if the Board of Supervisors moves forward with the project.
The environmental impact report examines a “managed retreat” project that would remove the rocks, 107 parking spaces and relocate utility lines.
Critics say the beach park will be washed away completely and want alternatives to be considered, and Goleta leaders are asking that the rocks be left in as environmentally friendly protection options are looked at in the meantime.
On Monday, Aceves gave a short tour around the park, and spoke about assets that would be lost should the county's plan move forward.
The 107 spaces in the parking lot would be lost, and "where we are now will be a beach" if the plan proceeds, he said, standing on the asphalt.
The rock revetments that were placed off the coast are doing what they're supposed to do, Aceves maintained, and the county has not gone to the Coastal Commission and asked that the revetments stay in.
Public input was also lacking, Aceves said, calling on the county to follow the law with the California Environmental Quality Act, and that the county's planning commission should certify the EIR, giving the public more of an opportunity to comment on the project.
Aceves pointed out a playground and grouping of picnic tables that would have to be relocated, adding that relocating the utilities, restrooms and the like would cost the county up to $11 million.
"One and a half million people want to keep this park," he said.
The airport could also be affected if the revetments were removed, he said.
Aceves ended his talk by standing about 3 feet from the orange plastic fencing that lines the beach now. The storm that ravaged the beach would have been much worse had the revetments not been in place, he said.
Calling the county's plan "Janet Wolf's Managed Retreat 2.0," Aceves said the supervisor had been working on the project for eight years, and that the issue highlighted a "lack of leadership" on Wolf's part.
"All she needed to do was meet with constituents and find a plan that works," Aceves said. "I hope all of us go and convince her."
Brian Trautwein, an analyst for the Environmental Defense Center, also stopped by Aceves' event and spoke to reporters about their approach to the project.
Trautwein said the rocks, if left in, would damage the beach, and would eventually wash it away all together, leaving the park but removing the beach and sand.
His group is advocating installing a buried cobbled berm, as well as relocating the utilities and park assets.
Tuesday's meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., but the Goleta Beach 2.0 project will be heard at 1:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St.