Goleta Beach Park Preservation vs Retreat

Goleta Beach Park Preservation vs Retreat

By Friends of Goleta Beach Park on Jun 25, 2013 at 09:09 AM

republished from Noozhawk.com

A recent opinion piece in Noozhawk titled “Give Goleta Beach Project a Chance” reminds me of when I was a youngster, and a neighborhood kid asked to see my Willie Mays card and he would let me ride his bike.

The Topps card was worth a fortune, and anybody who owned one wouldn’t have sold it at any price. Though this kid felt like one of us, he said he didn’t want the card. He only wanted to hold it in exchange for letting me ride hisSchwinn racer. Well, I fell for it. Not only did I not get to ride the bike, but he stuck my famous card in the spokes of its wheel. The card was never the same again.

Goleta Beach Park is also one of those famous pieces of properties that we can’t play games with. It has been a treasured community investment going back to the early 1900s, when it was a state beach park. Every generation since has valued its preservation, and today it is still the most heavily used park in the Santa Barbara County system.

As such, a more permanent solution is required to safeguard this 29-acre parcel, in its present form, in order to leave a legacy for future generations of park visitors.

Saving Goleta Beach Park requires a public commitment to preserve the integrity of the existing park’s unique amenities, including:

» Readily available and close to the beach parking accessibility,and adequate spaces for peak demand.

» A sizable family-oriented grass area with picnic, playground and restroom facilities.

» A readily accessible beach area along the entire parking frontage with an ongoing strategy to maximize sand retention to ensure the largest possible beach.

An engineered solution was endorsed by the county and recommended for approval of the California Coastal Commission last year. Even though the commission review was 18 months, low and behold, the commission’s staff actually recommended approval of the permeable pier addition. But without warning, the CCC voted down this universally acceptable solution 9-1! Here is yet another example of a state entity overruling the will of the people, disregarding local experts and ignoring the recommendation of local governments.

This is where we find ourselves today: The CCC wants to hold our park hostage to a concept called “managed retreat.”

The funny thing is, now the county decision-makers have decided that this trumps any consideration for our agreed-to solution. So years of study, hundreds of hours of volunteer and staff time, and lots of taxpayer money that went toward finding a common solution that we could go forward with is now considered dead and buried because some of our elected officials don’t want to stand up for our community’s sense of ownership for one of our best local treasures.

Where that puts us today is on the wrong side of history. If our elected officials allow Goleta Beach 2.0 recommendations to be implemented, we are looking at the beginning of the end, as our park will be reduced to a shrinking island without the protections that our forefathers have always honored. The more than 1 million good citizens who use the park shouldn’t allow others who have little vested interest in its preservation to throw the baby out with the bath water.

I recommend three simple solutions as the path of least resistance:

» 1. Permit/grandfather all existing rock revetment barriers installed as a permanent backstop revetment protection zone for existing county assets, underground utilities and all structures.

Most of the revetments have been in place from eight to 25 years. Indeed, these zones are now well occupied with residents that enhance the beach biological environment while protecting the park shoreline during violent storms. The future continued integrity of our park is best ensured by guarding our coastline well, and this alternative has passed the test of time — with no identified disruption to the balance of nature or to claimed littoral inhibitions to sand movement.

One only has to examine the sand deposits in Santa Barbara Harbor to eschew that claim as invalid. Indeed, the down-coast sand deposits have served as a replenishment source of sand this past winter.

» 2. Continue the Goleta Beach nourishment program on an as-required basis. This secondary solution has proven its worth over countless storm erosions as a noninvasive, eco-friendly impact allowing our park to flourish and provide the same consistent enjoyment year over year.

» 3. Provide on-site park rangers/maintenance staff as a service to the annual 1.5 million visitors and to support daily operation/maintenance requirements. Qualified rangers are required to provide engineering and operational efficiencies on an ongoing basis.

The Save Our Park program outlined here represents a low-investment, conservative, eco-friendly strategy by minimizing costly and otherwise potentially destructive measures that would not provide adequate assurance for saving our park as we know it.

The Army Corps of Engineers, states, counties and municipals have approved and used eco-friendly revetment solutions to protect shorelines and waterways consistent with this approach. The California Coastal Commission also has approved such measures as the proper path in providing balanced, environmentally sound protective measures, most recently with the rock revetment work now under way on Broad Beach in Malibu.

Considering the extensive use of Goleta Beach Park and the societal value of its continued use, it’s imperative that this treasured environment be preserved and protected for generations to come. Alternative solutions have been explored and deliberated without consensus as to how to preserve our park with common-sense and low-cost solutions.

This low-cost, environmentally sensitive and coastline-neutral set of solutions is in the best interest of the community, the environment and in full compliance with the California Coastal Act.

— Michael Rattray is a longtime resident of the Goleta Valley and a member of the Goleta Beach Park Coalition.