Goleta Beach is a Park not an experiment

Goleta Beach is a Park not an experiment

By Friends of Goleta Beach Park on Jun 25, 2013 at 09:09 AM
Goleta Beach is a Park not an experiment

By Michael W. Rattray

You may have noticed a series of marketing  pieces lately that entice readers to believe the only way to save Goleta Beach is with the passage of Goleta Beach 2.0.  This radical agenda is being played out at Goleta Beach County Park by special interest groups that want to hold our County Supervisors hostage.  It will eliminate any protection at our Park from storm surges by removing existing rock protections that now protects this public property. 

Remember the Blue Line Special we were asked to swallow a couple of years ago.  Now we are to believe that we have lost the battle, all the polar caps are melting, that the oceans are taking over the world and Goleta Beach Park is now at the center of this new universe.  So by taking out the rock backstops that were strategically placed in 2002-05, these fringe groups can link the next El Nino storms, that have hammered the California coastlines for centuries, to man-made global warming and say, I told you so.

Let’s breakdown the facts.  Currently, there are several hundred linear feet of buried rocks along the Goleta Beach Park property.  Goleta 2.0 recommends removing approximately 900 feet of these rocks on the west side, with the lions share protecting the grass park, our restrooms, picnic benches, and playground structure.  They want to take out these rocks that are protecting the park with no recommended alternative for protection.  These rocks were placed there by our County Parks Department strategically to protect the park after severe storms washed away part of the park and the public outcry to save the park was heard.  These rocks were placed strategically and set back beyond what is called the “high high tide line”.  Waves do not hit these rocks except during severe winter storms.  They are not a seawall; they do not touch the water at all.  What this means is that these rocks are only protecting the park, the parking lot, and underground utilities as the last line of defense against major storm surges.   So because of their location, they have no impact on the normal ebb and flow of tides and therefore don’t interfere with the natural processes of sand migration up and down the coast.   Yet, you will hear the environmental opposition tout over and over again that the “rock wall” is causing erosion as wave action hits the rocks. This simply is not true.

More importantly, those in support of 2.0 will have you believe that these rocks on the west side are causing catastrophic damage to our beach with loss of sand.  They even want you to believe that a recent sewage spill is a result of the rock placement.  Turns out it was a human mechanical error. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, if you go out to the park today, you will not see any of these rocks because they are buried far below grass, soil, and sand, a solid insurance policy for the next big storm backstop when needed.

These organizations (Surfrider Foundation, Environmental Defense Center) will not stop short of there goal of abandoning our park in the name of “saving our beach”.  They have controlled the process, the plan, and the recommendations coming out of Goleta Beach 2.0 in a near vacuum. If this plan were to be implemented, parking would be eliminated, utilities would have to be moved and our park would have no backstop protections against known El Nino storms.  Just to show the ridiculousness of this plan, the utilities would only be set back some 20-25 feet from their current locations at the cost of millions of dollars.  To our knowledge, none of the utility companies have agreed to this idea and have indicated to the County that they wouldn’t pay for it to be done.  This means the taxpayers will pay.  This plan even goes so far as to recommend installing additional rock revetments at another section of the park to protect a sewage outfall.  The irony: take existing rocks out that protect our park and its visitors but install new ones to protect a sewage facility?

These fringe groups are aligned with the California Coastal Commission, who have ordered the County to remove the rocks.  Why? Because these unelected set of commissioners are driving an initiative called “managed retreat” which says to all California, we will not have protection along our coastline and this mandate starts at Goleta Beach Park. 

Our County Supervisors have a choice to make – bow to the Coastal Commission’s edict, take out the rocks and abandon the public’s investment in this park, or find a way to work with the Coastal Commission on a plan that will protect our current park and our 1.4 million citizens who use it yearly.  At this moment, the Board of Supervisors has decided to vote on Goleta 2.0 Master Plan with an up or down vote July 6th.  We ask you to review the Plan, and the resultant consequences.  The plan can be viewed at http://www.countyofsb.org/parks/parks07.aspx?id=16864 and the impacts on the Friends of Goleta Beach Park site www.friendsofgoletabeachpark.org.  Contact your County supervisor and/or come to the hearing as your voice needs to be heard.  They are our leadership on this public land and let’s hope they also see that Goleta Beach 2.0 spends millions and saves nothing.  They have a moral obligation to be the leaders who stand up and protect this community treasure, today, tomorrow and for future generations.