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Michael Rattray: Geotextile Solution Provides Valuable Protection for Goleta Beach Park

Santa Barbara County installed geotextile cells in three sections along a 415-foot length of Goleta Beach Park’s eroded lawn area.
Santa Barbara County installed geotextile cells in three sections along a 415-foot length of Goleta Beach Park’s eroded lawn area. (Sylvester Photography photo)

Last Thursday, the California Coastal Commission voted 7-4 for retaining an emergency eco-friendly protection measure designed and constructed by Santa Barbara County for unprotected areas of Goleta Beach Park.

Michael Rattray
Michael Rattray

Many areas were in harm’s way during the 2015-16 El Niño high surf season, which significantly eroded unprotected beach and lawn areas in the central portion of the park, creating sinkholes and crevasses within the lawn area and threatening existing park facilities.

During El Niño winter storm years, all west-facing beaches and coastlines are in more jeopardy with high tides and wave actions as many storm waves come from the Southern Hemisphere.

The county installed the geotextile cells in three sections along a 415-foot length of the park’s eroded lawn area, in which cobble and compacted soils were wrapped in a geotextile material and stacked to provide better protection and stability from wave erosion and drainage. The geotextile cells were buried with compacted earth and sand.

The commission approval incorporates these new protection measures with the same reporting and maintenance requirements of the 20-year permit approved last year for the 1,200 feet of rock revetment on the far west end of the park. The county took a very important step in using an alternative protection measure vs. more rocks that continue to be controversial.

Goleta Beach Park can now provide an invaluable service both at the park and to other coastal communities with the tradeoffs of protection and consequences of this newer technology vs. rock, which is now side by side in one location for future analysis and comparisons.

Friends of Goleta Beach Park appreciates the effort the county put into seeing this project get approved so that the 1.5 million visitors a year can enjoy this beautiful beach park for years to come.

— Michael Rattray represents Friends of Goleta Beach Park. The opinions expressed are his own.

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