Goleta’s shorelines are covered in rocks and debris following the March 1 storm, leaving very little sandy beach for shorebirds and beachgoers. The high tides also exposed many rusty pipes, shorn-off wooden pier pilings and concrete blocks from decommissioned oil production equipment, which now stick up out of the sand at the tide line.
The relics of oil piers and seawalls aren’t owned by the city, but City Manager Dan Singer said Goleta’s leaders should take responsibility for making the beaches a safe environment for the public.
Some of the debris washed up in the storm, but most of the hazards were exposed by the loss of sand during the March 1 storm. The jagged pipes and steel pilings were always there, lurking underneath the water where people walk their dogs, play on the beach and wade into the waves.
Most people don’t even know about the hazards lying underneath the water, Singer said.
“In our case, that’s not shark attacks; it might be a rusty pipe attack,” Singer said.
The State Lands Commission is taking the lead in removing debris and old oil pier infrastructure that have been left on the beaches over the years.
Singer said the state agency will clean up the beaches within Goleta's city limits, which stretches from Coal Oil Point to the Bacara Resort & Spa area. City staff will have someone monitoring the work at all times, he said.
The agency got about $200,000 in emergency funding to remove beach hazards and debris from the March 1 storm, which will be spent cleaning up in Goleta and elsewhere, Singer said. The Goleta City Council called the pictures troubling and allocated $50,000 for beach hazard removal funds in case the state runs out of money or time.
It’s a chance to get rid of everything, once and for all, planning manager Anne Wells said.
Singer declared an emergency last week to start the process, and the City Council affirmed that on Tuesday night. The city already received emergency permits from the California Coastal Commission and the Department of Fish & Wildlife to do the work, Wells said.
The State Lands Commission is preparing to mobilize Monday, and the work is expected to take less than a week. Crews will have to work during low-tide times and avoid snowy plover nesting areas. The plovers can’t nest on the beach when they’re covered in debris, which is why the city is getting permits to remove the hazards, Wells said.
March started with a big storm that hit Santa Barbara County hard, causing beach closures all over the coast, damaging restaurants and flooding waterfront areas.
High tides were so tall they took out windows at the Moby Dick Restaurant on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara while people were eating breakfast. Waves also washed away part of the Gaviota Pier, damaged the Goleta Pier and washed several boats ashore.