Goleta Beach is one of Santa Barbara County’s most popular parks. But imagine going to Goleta Beach Park and finding no beach.
Seawalls cause sandy beaches to disappear forever. This has been proven time after time in study after study. The unpermitted seawall at the west end of Goleta Beach is no exception; it must be removed to preserve Goleta Beach. If the seawall is left in place, over time it will eliminate and destroy Goleta Beach.
Today, people of all ages flock to Goleta’s largest sandy beach to enjoy the waves, the water, and the fresh air, to lie on the sand, relax, read, walk dogs, build sandcastles, picnic, and bring their children to play. Unless proactive steps are taken now to remove the seawall and protect the park and the beach, future generations will eventually have no beach to sit on — only waves sloshing against a rock seawall.
The simple fact is that as sea levels rise, seawalls erode and the ocean inundates sandy beaches. Once a seawall is built on a beach, the rising ocean will ultimately submerge the sand.
A conceptual new plan for Goleta Beach, as recommended by engineers and scientists, will be considered by the Board of Supervisors on March 18.The new plan would remove the illegal western seawall, thereby expanding Goleta Beach by one to two acres and preserving our most-used local beach
The plan will relocate, not eliminate, 70 to 100 parking spaces — currently situated dangerously in the erosion hot spot — to safer areas of the park.
The bike path — used by hundreds of cyclists, including children, every day — would also be moved out of harm’s way and rebuilt to be wider and safer.
The restaurant would continue to be protected by existing rock seawall, with 250 feet of cobble berm added on the restaurant’s west side.
Sewer and utility lines would be moved out of the critical erosion zone; no one wants damaged, leaking sewer and gas lines on Goleta Beach.
Additional protection for the park can be provided through the installment of a cobble berm (similar to the one at Surfer’s Point in Ventura), which will help protect the park from erosion without losing the beach.
While park facilities can be relocated and lawns can be replanted, the beach itself is irreplaceable.
Removing the controversial seawall and relocating park facilities out of the erosion zone makes environmental and economic sense. It will save our beach and end years of debate over how to best protect Goleta Beach Park.
The bottom line: Everyone loves Goleta Beach. Saving it is a high priority for all in our community. Residents should encourage the county to remove the harmful, unpermitted seawall in order to save this critical community beach.
Readers are encouraged to contact the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) at (805) 963-1622 and visit EDC’s website for more information about Goleta Beach and to learn how to help protect our treasured beach park.
Linda Krop is a Goleta resident and chief counsel of the Environmental Defense Center. Brian Trautwein has lived in the Goleta Valley for 44 years, graduated from UCSB, and is EDC’s environmental analyst/watershed program coordinator. Sandy Lejeune is chair of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. EDC’s and Surfrider’s efforts to protect Goleta Beach are funded by the UCSB Associated Students Coastal Fund and backed by 43 businesses and community groups that make up the Coalition to Save Goleta Beach.