A 2,400-foot sand berm is being constructed along Goleta Beach Park in order to protect the beach from storm damage from the predicted El Niño.
The California Coastal Commission approved an emergency permit for a winter sand berm to be constructed along the shoreline.
County staff say the berm will help prevent major flooding and damage to park infrastructure, including sanitary sewer, electrical and water lines, recreational facilities, the Beachside Bar-Cafe restaurant, two restrooms and other infrastructure in the area.
It will stretch from the pier to the western end of the parking lot.
The decision to put in the berm was made due to the extremely low levels of sand at the beach, higher tides than usual, and the major storm events anticipated this winter.
“It’s supposed to be even stronger than what we’ve ever seen,” according to Jill Van Wie, capital projects manager for the Santa Barbara County Parks Department.
Van Wie called the emergency permit for the berm “a great proactive emergency step by the Coastal Commission.”
The sand berm is separate from the rock revetments that were installed at the beach years ago to protect park facilities and utilities from erosion.
County staff recently submitted documentation to the Coastal Commission outlining how they were meeting the special conditions needed to keep the revetments in place.
The rock revetments would protect against normal storm levels, but this winter is anticipated to bring more heavy weather, Van Wie said.
Heavy equipment began moving the sand Tuesday, and the work will continue for the next two to three weeks.
The crews will be moving sand from the eastern side of the slough to create the berm.
At least three public access ramps will be installed and clearly marked along the berm to permit ongoing access to the beach.
The project is funded with erosion prevention funding, a $1.5 million federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant, Van Wie said.
— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.