Saturday, August 18 , 2018, 8:29 am | Overcast 70º


Local News

Goleta Threatens Legal Action If County Supervisors Proceed with Goleta Beach Plan

City officials want the board, expected to select a project option on Tuesday, to first certify the environmental documents before taking any action

Goleta city leaders don’t agree with Santa Barbara County’s plans for Goleta Beach Park and haven’t been quiet about it, but now they’re threatening to take legal action if the Board of Supervisors moves forward with the project.

After years of environmental review, the supervisors are expected to pick a specific project at their meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Santa Barbara County’s most popular park has rock revetments installed to stop storms from destroying the park, but the California Coastal Commission has demanded a long-term strategy to deal with erosion instead of the rocks. The rocks were installed multiple times under emergency permits, which have expired.

The environmental impact report examines a “managed retreat” project that would remove the rocks, 107 parking spaces and relocate utility lines. Critics say the beach park will be washed away completely and want alternatives to be considered, which were also studied in the environmental documents.

Goleta leaders are partial to the second option, which would keep the rocks for 10 years and experiment with environmentally friendly protection options in the meantime.

In a letter to the Board of Supervisors, City Attorney Tim Giles said the City Council is concerned the county will send a project to the California Coastal Commission without certifying the environmental documents. That’s the process the county staff members are recommending for Tuesday.

However, the California Environmental Quality Act requires an EIR to be certified before a decision-making body (like the Board of Supervisors) takes any action toward selecting a project, Giles said.

Typically, the county Planning Commission would certify the EIR, the supervisors would make a decision on the project and then apply for a permit.

Giles urges the board to certify the environmental documents before they take any action.

“Consequently, shall the board move forward with the suggestions set forth in the staff report for this matter, the city will be forced to consider its legal options to challenge the board’s actions, including recovery of legal fees,” he wrote.

Goleta could file a writ of mandate action, asking a judge to order the county to comply with the CEQA process, Giles said.

County planning staff members say the county could be fined by the Coastal Commission if no action is taken on Tuesday to move the project forward. 

They wrote that it’s “premature and inefficient” to do a local permit process first, including EIR certification, since the Coastal Commission has the ultimate authority on approving a project. They propose going to the county Planning Commission with the permit and EIR certification after that.

Goleta wants the county to postpone any decision and get additional public input. The lack of outreach has had a “polarizing effect” on the community, Giles wrote in his letter.

“The bigger question is, why on a project of this size and a project that has so much public interest and affects so many people, wouldn’t you go through the normal process with public hearings?” he said Friday.

The City of Goleta doesn’t have an afternoon City Council session on Tuesday afternoon, so Giles and many of the council members are expected to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., but the Goleta Beach 2.0 project will be heard at 1:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St.

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >