Science Information Goleta Beach Park

by Dr. Arthur Sylvester

There is approximately 900 ft-long stretch of emergency rocks that were placed to mitigate additional wave erosion of the park/turf during El Nino storms. Emplacement of those rocks had the approval of both SB County and the California Coastal Commission with the caveat they be removed after five years or until a long-term solution plan was submitted and approved.

This emergency revetment did protect the mid-section of the park in 2002, 2003, and again in 2010 from El Nino storms. Prior to this protection being provided, 30' to 100' of turf, including table and barbecue sites, had been lost since the El Nino events of the 1980's. During the intervening years, no additional grassy turf or park assets has been lost.

A number of observations should be noted:

  1. The mid-park revetment lies above the high high tide line and, therefore, is reached by waves only in the highest storm waves when counted on to prevent erosion of the park; and it has done just that several times since 2002.
  2. Professor Gary Griggs, Earth Sciences, U.C. Santa Cruz, a California beach coast erosion expert, designed an 8-year study specifically aimed at searching for evidence of erosion of sand in front of revetments and other rock armor. He found NO evidence that a rock revetment placed above the high high tide line and parallel to the coast has any affect whatsoever on interruption of sand transport down coast.

In a conversation with Professor Emeritus, Arthur Sylvester, UCSB Earth Science, Professor Griggs stated that, although groins and hard structures may be unsightly and detrimental to some beaches in some places, many examples exist in California where WITH PROPER ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION ARMORING BEACHES AND CLIFFS WITH HARD STURCTURES CAN BE DONE AESTHETICALLY AND EFFECTIVELY WITHOUT CAUSING ANY ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE AND HAS BEEN DONE WITH PERMISSION OF THE California Coastal Commission. There are alternative eco-friendly materials that, properly constructed, can also achieve the same safeguards.