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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 3:10 am | Fair 45º


County Planners Hear from Residents, City Leaders on Goleta Beach 2.0 Plan

A public comment meeting focuses on the environmental impact report for the 'managed retreat' proposal

In a meeting Tuesday to gather public comment on the Goleta Beach 2.0 environmental impact report, residents criticized the analysis done for the proposed plan.

Santa Barbara County planners gave a brief presentation on the “managed retreat” proposal for Goleta Beach Park and the conclusions about the environmental impacts of the project.

It wasn’t a forum for discussing the merits of the project, county planners said, noting that the project will go before the county Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors later this year.

The comment period for the EIR ends Aug. 1, and county staff then have to respond to each concern, as part of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Dan Gira, from the consulting firm AMEC Environment and Infrastructure, said the managed retreat plan would remove the rock revetments placed in 2002 and two parking lots. According to the draft EIR, this plan would have some unavoidable impacts, he said.

Due to erosion projected over time, Goleta Beach would lose a lot of its shoreline lawn area and be exposed to wave attacks. Gira noted the idea to remove the revetments would also conflict with county plans to protect coastal recreation.

Residents and special groups, including Friends of Goleta Beach, have advocated for alternatives to this plan, and some of their ideas were incorporated into the draft report. Gira’s firm evaluated different materials to replace the rock revetment, including a cobble berm, as seen at El Capitan State Beach, and Canary Island date palm trees as seen at Refugio State Beach.

These ideas have merit, but there “wasn’t sufficient information on the efficacy,” Gira said.

His firm prefers the third alternative, he said, which would retreat westward with rock revetments instead of inland. There isn’t much room to retreat inland since the main channel for the Goleta Slough and Highway 217 surround the existing park and beach areas, according to Gira.

Local residents criticized the report, saying it didn’t consider an impact to coastal access and wasn’t given enough public notice. Some also questioned the erosion projections used for the baseline environmental analysis.

Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves told the county planning representatives that the city wants the park to be protected. It seems that the park is well-maintained and it’s one of the county’s most lucrative parks, he said.

The council voted to support the second alternative, which would leave in the rock revetment while experiments are done to find a solution. Aceves said the EIR has weaknesses, and he urged the county to work with the public to plan the park’s future.

“The city will comment, and I believe it will cause the EIR to be recirculated,” he said.

Richard Rojas said the report didn’t address all of the beach and park’s uses, but focused on short-term beach-goers.

People park at the beach and use it as a starting point for kayaks, swimming, bike rides or even heading up to the UCSB campus, so losing 107 parking spaces would have a huge impact, according to Rojas.

“It’s more about coastal access than just parking your car,” he said.

The comment period for the draft environmental impact report ends Aug. 1.

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.

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