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Local News

Santa Barbara Council Considers Future of West Beach

A planning study outlines two alternatives for improvements

The Santa Barbara City Council considered the future of West Beach during a meeting Tuesday in which a study proposed new structures, improved landscaping and new signage as viable options for improvement.

Pat Saley and Associates prepared the West Beach Planning Study and discussed the two alternatives created after meetings with various harbor, waterfront and beach stakeholders.

There are no funds earmarked for any West Beach improvements beyond the nearly finished pedestrian improvement project, and no decisions were made Tuesday regarding the study.

West Beach is heavily used for everyday and special events, and improving the connection between the beach and the harbor is a key motive.

The first alternative was suggested as a first phase by some stakeholders, as it includes “softer,” more inexpensive options such as updating outrigger storage, relocating the dredge equipment and better signage, Saley said. A more expensive option — which some said could be a second phase — includes new storage buildings for outriggers and Chumash Maritime Association tomols (wooden plank boats) and native landscaping along the Cabrillo seawall.

Though no action was taken — and no funding is available from the Redevelopment Agency, or the City of Santa Barbara general fund or waterfront fund — council members had differing opinions on further development of the area.

There were concerns about public vs. private uses of the beach, ongoing maintenance costs for new structures, and obstructing views of the beach’s open space, but there was consensus over the need for certain improvements.

Councilman Grant House called certain parts of West Beach “derelict” and pointed out the dredge equipment storage in particular as “blight on the land.”

“We have to have it, but does it have to be on the beach, all the time?” he said.

Saley said any improvements aim to better the ambiance of the whole area.

Mayor Helene Schneider spoke favorably of most of the potential improvements, but objected to the city’s funds being the only purse for the projects. She said partnerships with organizations and clubs that use the area would be ideal.

Earlier in the meeting, the council approved a lease with the Police Activities League to take over the Teen Center, which will transition over in September, according to staff.

Other program changes this year include the Santa Barbara School District and Hope School District crossing guard program agreements with the city through the police department.

Unlike previous years, when the city covered the programs’ cost, the districts will reimburse the city for half of the cost of staffing and administering the program for the next three years.

The Santa Barbara School District will pay about $46,630, adjusted annually, and the Hope School District will pay the city about $7,020 per year.

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

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