Elings Park directors have agreed not to hold wedding receptions or host organized bike races on Elings Park South as part of a legal settlement hammered out between the park and attorneys for the County of Santa Barbara. The deal, announced Tuesday, allows the park to pursue permits for more active uses of the land in the future, but for the time being, use of the property will be limited to more passive recreational activities in deference to the wildlife living there. Hang gliding will still be allowed. Recreational mountain bikers will still be allowed to take advantage of the park’s network of switch-backing trails; organized cycling events, however, will not.
The park found itself in hot water with the county last year when some park neighbors — upset by amplified music coming from wedding receptions — complained that certain activities taking place at Elings exceeded what was permitted under the park’s covenant with the county. The county had donated $500,000 to help acquire the southern portion of the park in 1999. At that time, it stipulated in general terms that the land should be used for passive recreation. However, the county’s covenant with the park was vague. In the meantime, Elings Park directors are planning to host a 99th birthday bash for park founder Jerry Harwin on March 12 at the Biltmore. Harwin led the effort to convert what was an abandoned landfill into the only privately owned park open to the public in the nation. Harwin, who famously attributes his longevity to wine, women, and song — “but not necessarily in that order” — first got the idea in the 1960s.