Saturday, May 28 , 2016, 3:39 am | Overcast 56º

Santa Barbara County Allocates More Money to Goleta Beach Study

An additional $60,000 will pay for further review of the 'managed retreat' plan designed by county staff

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has approved an increase to the environmental review contract for Goleta Beach 2.0.

The board voted unanimously last May to have AMEC Environmental Infrastructure Inc. conduct the review for the Goleta Beach County Park “managed retreat” plan designed by county staff to move amenities more landward because of erosion issues.

The plan would remove 150 parking spaces at the west end, which is a high erosion zone; add a new utility corridor within the Highway 217 Caltrans easement; relocate the bike path; take out 950 feet of unpermitted sections of rock; and install a sandbag-like structure on the east end to protect Goleta Sanitary District infrastructure near the Beachside Bar-Café.

The supervisors this week added $60,000 to the contract amount for extra work, including a cultural analysis of the area to respond to Native American concerns, and visual simulation to show the range of changes to the beach over time from the proposed changes.

Crews will do some subsurface testing in areas of concern, near Highway 217, since the proposed project would affect the new utility corridor as much as 12 feet deep.

There were some archeological studies done when the parking lots were poured, but nothing below the surface, according to the staff report.

AMEC also will look at another alternative plan, which would remove the existing parking lot 1 and restore more natural movement of the Goleta Slough mouth, but keep some of the rock revetments on the western half of the park, according to the contract amendments.

The EIR contract is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Services.

An advocacy group, Friends of Goleta Beach Park, has advocated for alternative design ideas such as planting Canary Island date palms to prevent erosion, since the same species has protected Refugio Beach State Park for decades.

The group has submitted a formal complaint to the county Grand Jury over the county’s plan.

“Under this new policy of ‘managed retreat,’ all of those protection rocks are to be removed, ceding the battle to the sea and the damaging consequences of future storms,” Friends of Goleta Beach member Michael Rattray wrote in an opinion piece.

“Mind you, you can’t even see these rocks today because they are buried under five feet of dirt, sand and grass, ready to do their job as the last line of defense, and already bought and paid for.”

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.

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