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City Officials Review Proposed Changes Under Goleta Beach 2.0 Plan

The group takes a careful look at the project's environmental impact report ahead of an upcoming City Council meeting and public hearing

A plan to renovate Goleta Beach Park — dubbed Goleta Beach 2.0 — should focus on maintaining public access for Santa Barbara County residents, according to members of a Goleta subcommittee.

The group of Goleta officials and a small audience of other interested parties gathered Monday in a City Hall conference room to take a careful look at the proposed beach-retreat project, which is meant to restore a deep beach and reduce the risk of erosion to existing park facilities and utilities.

The Goleta Beach 2.0 plan has flown below the radar of many local residents, which is why officials are hoping more members of the public will soon jump into the discussion.

Anne Wells, the city’s advance planning manager, led a conversation Monday analyzing the project’s environmental impact report so that Goleta staff can better craft concerns and points of interest in a report to the Goleta City Council at its July 16 meeting.

A county-hosted public hearing is set for July 23.

Wells said Goleta Beach 2.0 is very different from the county-approved 1.0 plan — requesting a permeable pile pier addition to Goleta Pier — that was denied in 2009 by the California Coastal Commission.

The new plan is designed to establish a balance of protecting the county’s most visited park while also acknowledging the potential sea level rise.

The 2.0 plan includes removing 150 parking spaces on the park’s west end, removing all of the rock revetments of the west end, moving all underground utility lines inland of the bike path (relocating the path), moving westend restrooms, and installing a protective geo-textile dune and structure west of the Beachside Bar-Cafe to protect the Goleta Sanitary District’s existing underground sewer ocean outfall pipe and vault.

On Monday, officials also spoke briefly about a potential Goleta Beach 3.0 plan, which Wells called “environmentally superior” because it is phased out over 20 years and affects the east side of the park more than the west, at least initially.

That plan would eliminate a ranger’s residence to add parking spaces and could include some nesting space for the endangered snowy plover.

Mayor Pro Tempore Michael Bennett questioned whether any of the plans properly served the park’s visitors, which number more than 1.5 million annually. He also said the EIR lacks enough information about breaching the Goleta slough and the consequences of that.

Councilman Jim Farr said he was concerned about a footnote on one of the planning documents, which said that about 2.6 acres of the park’s grassy lawn could be lost due to natural coastal processes.

“That’s a big impact and actually one of the primary reasons a lot of us are here,” Farr said. “The fundamental question is, what we gaining from all this? I think the whole thing is ill conceived. We need to keep (the park). The people need it.”

Environmental supporters and Friends of Goleta Beach Park representatives at Monday’s meeting said they were there to listen and were still trying to form an official position on what a best-case scenario might look like.

The council members directed Wells to craft two letters for the full council, one of which would recommend that city staff do a thorough review of which rocks were permitted prior to considering removal.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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