Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 11:44 am | Partly Cloudy 73º


Michael Rattray: Tide Shifts in Favor of Goleta Beach Park, and Coastal Commission Could, Too

[Noozhawk’s note: This article has been updated below to reflect the endorsement from the local Sierra Club chapter, and not another local organization. An earlier version was incorrect.]

By far the biggest decision on the future of Goleta Beach Park will be made May 13 when the California Coastal Commission votes on the fate of the park’s current protection.

Michael Rattray
Michael Rattray

In the last 13 years, Santa Barbara County crews installed rock buffers in front of the park’s lawn and its western parking lots. The intent was to prevent major erosion during the awful El Niño storms that many of us pray for today during California’s chronic drought.

This journey to save the county’s most popular park — which draws 1.5 million visitors a year — has been a long and arduous battle that finally can have a long-term solution.

Now with a unanimous 5-0 vote for permanency from our county Board of Supervisors, support from both the county and Coastal Commission staff, and an endorsement from our local Sierra Club, we — hopefully — can get an agreement of “no change” from the Coastal Commission itself.

Among the counter arguments for removing this protection are that the rocks are set in the surf line, scouring our beaches and depriving sand from naturally moving down coast. But these assertions were put to rest by a factual environmental impact report that proved otherwise.

It was finally documented that the rocks’ placement doesn’t impede normal ebb and flow of surf during high tides, but instead they are truly doing their job of protecting landward park assets when needed most.

Next on the list of arguments against the rocks was the threat of sea-level rise.

But again, the EIR found that when or if such rises materialize in the Santa Barbara Channel, any impact on beach erosion would be after 2050, eliminating the need of removing the rocks today.

And, by the way, the NOAA has been monitoring sea-level changes in our channel since 1974, and in 40 years there has been less than an inch of rise, a far cry from the 2 to 5 feet that computer models continue to predict.

With these arguments out of the way, all citizens of this county finally will be able to enjoy this wonderful beach park without the threat of destruction like we have experienced during past winter storms — before the buried rocks were installed.

But we can’t ease up now. Your support in defense of this position is most welcome, either through writing to the Coastal Commission or by attending the May 13 commission hearing in Santa Barbara. The hearing begins at approximately 4 p.m. in the Board if Supervisors hearing room on the fourth floor of the Santa Barbara County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St.

— Michael Rattray represents Friends of Goleta Beach Park.

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