Land and Sea

The slow and steady suck of muck from Santa Barbara harbor’s ocean floor is now underway, with all of the undesirable sediments being piped to the surf zone of East Beach. From the seawall to Marinas 2 through 4, a Canadian-based crew will suck up literally tons of metal-filled sediment, which currently makes portions of the harbor impassable at low tide. The brew of aluminum, arsenic, and mercury will then be piped several hundred yards to the Mission Creek area of East Beach, where it will be deposited. According to harbor officials, the monthlong $280,000 project is acceptable under EPA standards, though the public is warned to steer clear of the area.

In a surprise move hailed by Santa Barbara environmentalists, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Ocean Protection Council adopted aggressive recommendations for reducing the amount of plastic waste in the ocean. The council adopted all of Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay’s recommendations for cracking down on the use of plastic fast-food containers, litter, and toxic additives in plastic. Non-biodegradable plastic fragments are consumed by fish and birds. According to a report from the Algita Foundation, the mass of plastic pieces off the Santa Barbara coastline is 2.5 times greater than the mass of zooplankton on the water’s surface.

At their meeting on February 13, county supervisors agreed unanimously to appoint a Fire Board of Appeal to handle residents’ requests for exceptions to fire code regulations, such as alternate materials and construction. Each supervisor will appoint one member to the board. Such requests now go first to the fire marshal, then the fire chief, and finally to the Board of Supervisors for resolution.

Less than three months after leaving office, former Goleta City Councilmember Cynthia Brock will be back before the council as a petitioner. On February 20, Brock and fellow Ellwood Mesa preservation activist Chris Lang will ask the council to prohibit the Goleta West Sanitary District from routing additional sewage down the Devereux Creek trunk line, which runs through the Sperling Preserve and Santa Barbara Shores Park. It is not the possibility of spills that concerns her, Brock said, but the release of sewer gases from the line as well as the need for heavy equipment and foliage clearance.

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