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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 5:43 pm | Fair 62º


Officials Optimistic That Goleta Beach Park Won’t Experience Intense Erosion This Winter

400 feet of buried protective fabric, milder forecast provide hope that weather won’t take as severe a toll this time

Erosion has exposed some of the fabric meant to fortify the sand at Goleta Beach Park. Click to view larger
Erosion has exposed some of the fabric meant to fortify the sand at Goleta Beach Park.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County officials are optimistic that a second consecutive winter of extensive erosion is not in the cards for the county’s most popular park.

Fortifying Goleta Beach Park’s sands is 400 feet of fabric buried under the surface that has been holding up pretty well, according to George Chapjian, the county’s director of community services.

Over the past several years, the beach near UC Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Airport has been eaten away by waves and natural forces, leaving officials to grapple with the difficult task of implementing permanent solutions.

Although El Niño weather conditions that were expected to dump much-needed rain on Southern California last winter hardly made an appearance, the season still took chunks out of Goleta Beach.

“Last year was really an anomaly,” Chapjian said. “It hit us hard.”

This time around, La Niña conditions are expected to bring a cold and dry winter.

The county is optimistic that this winter will be kinder, Chapjian said, but added that crews are still ready for whatever the weather and ocean have in store.

Sections of the buried fabric, which stretches about 400 feet west from around the park’s vehicle entrance, became exposed a couple of weeks ago.

Chapjian said the county is waiting on permits from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Regional Water Quality Control Board to haul in sand from the adjacent Goleta Slough to cover it.

Not part of the county’s erosion-fighting arsenal are giant rocks, which previously have been placed along the beach to protect the sand. Conditions attached to permits that govern the use of rock revetments there haven’t allowed for new ones, Chapjian said.

The county-administered Goleta Beach Park draws more than 1 million visitors a year and features a restaurant, a 1,500-foot pier and a water-sports-rental company. The park also offers amenities for fishing, barbecuing, volleyball, horseshoes and bicycling.

In July, the county began construction on a wider, more pedestrian-friendly bridge to replace the two-lane, 1960s-era bridge currently spanning the Goleta Slough — the only vehicle access the park has.

The new bridge is expected to be completed next year.

Five miles east, the county is working on another project at Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara that will replace a current decomposed granite path with a 2,100-square-foot boardwalk made of recycled wood.

The boardwalk will extend a little further to the beach’s lagoon, and include the installation of lighting along the path, new landscaping and parking lot drainage improvements.

Chapjian said that the renovations should be complete in February.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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.

The decomposed granite walkway at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park in Santa Barbara is being replaced with a 2,100-square-foot recycled wood boardwalk. Click to view larger
The decomposed granite walkway at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park in Santa Barbara is being replaced with a 2,100-square-foot recycled wood boardwalk. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

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