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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 12:05 pm | Fair 69º


County Supervisors Expected to Proceed with Environmental Review for Goleta Beach 2.0

Members of Friends of Goleta Beach Park plan to urge the board to consider its proposal to use palm trees for shoring up erosion at the park

Goleta Beach 2.0, a plan to address erosion at the popular Goleta Beach Park, goes back before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday for a discussion on moving forward with an environmental impact report.

The original plan, which called for adding permeable pilings along the pier to trap sand on the beach, was denied with a 9-1 vote by the California Coastal Commission. The current conceptual plan was approved by county supervisors last summer.

As proposed, it would demolish 150 parking spaces, relocate underground utilities including water, sewer and gas lines, relocate the bike path and remove 950 linear feet of the rock revetment.

The county already spent $75,000 on engineering studies, and the EIR is likely to cost $250,000 to $300,000, according to a staff report. Construction alone would carry a $3.5 million price tag.

“Really, the purpose was to let the public know where we are in the process,” Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf said of Tuesday’s agenda item.

She said putting out a request for proposals is merely the next step, which is why the item is on the consent agenda and not as an item with discussion. County staff members need the go-ahead to solicit bids for the EIR work.

The Environmental Defense Center supports the plan and says the wall of rocks, placed there under now-expired California Coastal Commission emergency permits, can push erosion to other beaches and should have been removed after the emergency ended, according to its website. It opposed the previous plan while representing the Surfrider-Santa Barbara Chapter.

Friends of Goleta Beach Park, a community group that has opposed the current plan since its inception, plans to show up in force at Tuesday’s meeting because of County CEO Chandra Waller’s memo attached to the agenda. The group has purchased and offered to donate 12 palm trees to plant at the high-tide line of the park, ideally to prevent further erosion. On Aug. 24, the County Parks Commission unanimously recommended that the Board of Supervisors evaluate the use of palm trees in the EIR, against the staff’s suggestion.

The board-approved conceptual plan doesn’t mention the trees, Waller’s memo says, and she recommends that the board not include them in the EIR process since it could cause delays, adding that the California Coastal Commission could require a permit to plant trees there.

Members of Friends of Goleta Beach Park worry that the idea of palms could be quashed Tuesday without ever being evaluated.

“We really want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kristen Amyx said.

Michael Rattray, CEO of the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, said the idea for palm trees came from Refugio State Beach, which has been partly protected by its 35 palm trees since 1935.

“Why not experiment in an unprotected part of the park when we know there will be another El Nino storm in the next couple of years?” he said.

The group proposes planting 12 trees about 40 feet apart at the high tide line so when they’re 50 years old or so, their root balls will be within 5 feet of each other and provide protection.

“I think it’s a rush to judgment,” Rattray said of Waller’s memo. “We’re trying to work within the spirit of Goleta Beach 2.0 and not trying to derail anything. We want to make sure part of the solution isn’t thrown out prematurely.”

Ed de la Torre, a third-generation Santa Barbara resident, has been involved with the effort since the first workshops in 2004 examined the permeable piling project.

“It’s very upsetting because we sure don’t want to lose our park,” he said.

When the group’s eyes turned to Refugio, they purchased 15-year-old palm trees — now stored in planters — to donate to the county. The group was heartened by the County Parks Commission’s response, but Waller’s memo “is debunking this whole concept of the palm trees,” he said. “For the trees planted (we calculated) it would cost less than $30,000 total, and they’re talking about $3.5 million, so where’s the logic in denying us?”

The Board of Supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. in the Board Hearing Room on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

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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