Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 4:33 am | Fair 66º


Local News

Goleta Council Backs Pilings Plan to Slow Beach Park Erosion

Members will send a letter to the California Coastal Commission in support of semipermeable pilings

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to send a letter to the California Coastal Commission in favor of the permeable piling solution proposed to slow erosion at Goleta Beach.

Originally part of the Goleta Slough, Goleta Beach Park receives more than 1 million visitors each year. As a partially man-made environment, the park has been subject to the forces that created the slough. This leads to severe erosion, as currents pick up sand and deposit it south to places such as the Santa Barbara Harbor, which spends $1.5 million a year to dredge up the same sand.

In the past decade, groups have clashed over what exactly to do with the beach. El Nino storms took out both sand and the underwater kelp in the nearby waters that protected the shore. Environmentalists called for a managed retreat, which would allow the waves to take back the shore, while moving utilities and other infrastructure back, away from the water. Those interested in saving the beach — including the county and the owners and patrons of the restaurant inside the park — advocate more permanent solutions, such as the rock wall the county installed as an emergency measure.

One solution will be the subject of a California Coastal Commission in hearing early July, and would entail installing a semipermeable series of pilings at the eastern end of the Goleta Pier to trap the sand and create a barrier from the flow of sand. The project includes the removal of the rock wall.

One project skeptic told the council that the pilings may not be enough, and that the rock wall should stay. Dr. Dan Secord, once a member of the commission, tried to drum up support for his idea.

“I’m trying to get the commissioners to understand that the notion of leaving those rocks in there to protect that beach has value,” he said.

The council balked at the idea of explicitly mentioning the rock wall in its letter of support, but voted 5-0 to support the permeable pilings. Even though Goleta Beach Park is not within the city’s jurisdiction, it is a top destination for local residents.

“It’s the only park we’ve got for access to the beach,” said Councilman Michael Bennett.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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