Thursday, September 21 , 2017, 10:44 pm | Fair 62º


Letter to the Editor: A Solution for Goleta Beach Park

The EDC and Surfrider Foundation alternative is environmentally progressive and cost effective

The Environmental Defense Center and the Santa Barbara Surfrider Foundation have worked for a decade to protect Goleta Beach Park.

Our goal is to protect all of the park’s amenities, including the beach, as important community recreational resources, while avoiding unnecessary environmental damage. Misinformation has been circulated about the California Coastal Commission’s 9-1 vote to deny Santa Barbara County’s proposed Goleta Beach permeable pile groin structure, which deserves to be addressed.

The commission denied the beach structure after thoroughly considering information from the county and its consultants, as well as input from the EDC and Surfrider and our team of coastal engineers, scientists and biologists, plus a wide spectrum of public comments. The commission received more than 230 petition signatures and letters in support of the groin and more than 580 letters opposed that instead favored the EDC’s & Surfrider’s alternative plan for protecting Goleta Beach Park.

The commission’s action was based on the fact that state law requires denial of any coastal structure that would interfere with sand movement, when an environmentally superior alternative is “feasible.” In this case, an alternative exists at a significantly lower cost, which promises to protect Goleta Beach Park without threatening down-coast beaches, bluffs and parks. Denial of the groin was founded in sound science, concern for the coast, and the Coastal Act’s important protections for our beaches.

With grants from The Fund for Santa Barbara and Coastal Fund, the EDC and Surfrider hired two coastal engineering firms. The firms independently found that the county’s proposal was likely to interfere with down-coast sand supplies and, as a result, down-coast beaches would narrow and bluffs would crumble at increasing rates.

The engineers pointed out that the county’s computer modeling was based on flawed assumptions and was therefore inaccurate and unreliable. The groin would have required expensive, ongoing dredging and maintenance causing air and water pollution, periodic beach and pier closures, and damage to coastal wildlife habitats.

The engineers developed the park reconfiguration alternative to protect the entire park, including the restaurant, beach, lawn area, parking and the environment. The alternative would place 30,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach and relocate some of the facilities (restrooms, part of the parking lot and utilities) farther within the park to protect them long into the future. The commission staff found the alternative to be feasible and to avoid down-coast effects.

Under the alternative, the area of turf would actually increase, and the interface between the sandy beach and turf would nearly double to 1,900 feet long. The area available for public use would increase from 7 to 10 acres. Most importantly, the alternative would protect the whole park, including all parking and facilities, without building a structure that would cause erosion of down-coast beaches and bluffs. The cost of the alternative is also about $12 million less than the county proposal.

The final chapter in the Goleta Beach saga has not been written. The county still needs to decide how it wishes to proceed. The EDC and Surfrider remain committed to working with the county on an environmentally progressive, long-term project that will protect Goleta Beach Park without unnecessary environmental risks.

Please contact the EDC’s Brian Trautwein or Linda Krop at 805.963.1622 with any questions about the commission’s action or about the EDC/Surfrider Alternative.

Brian Trautwein
Environmental Defense Center

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