Keep the Rocks at Goleta Beach

The Proposed Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Goleta Beach 2.0 goes to the Board of Supervisors on March 18. Hundreds of people have commented during previous meetings and indicated they support preserving Goleta Beach Park as it is.

The Coastal Commission and some of the supervisors support Goleta Beach 2.0 alternatives that call for “managed retreat,” which includes removing the protective rock revetments at the western end of the park and allowing nature to erode the beach. The two westernmost parking lots would be replaced with sand, and we would lose, initially, about 107 parking spaces (more would be lost later), the horseshoe pits, and the ranger station.

Alternative 2 of the Final EIR is the least disruptive of the options available, leaves things as they are for the most part, and encourages improvements like adding Canary Island palms, which have had proven success with soil conservation. This option also calls for a wait-and-see period.

Sea level rise is one of the reasons we are being told we need to “destroy the park in order to save the park.” NOAA predicts sea level rise in our area to be 1.25mm/year. (A millimeter is about the width of a single grain of table salt or the thickness of the wire used in a small paper clip.) Through year 2050, that’s 45mm or less than 2 inches. The draft EIR data adopted models showing an 8-inch rise from 2000 levels by 2030. If the models were accurate, we should have seen about 4 inches of rise by now. Not happening!

Another reason given for managed retreat is the threat of fines from the Coastal Commission if the rocks, which were placed with emergency permits, are not removed. And most arguments for managed retreat state the Goleta Beach rock seawall will cause erosion and eliminate the beach. The rock revetments at Goleta Beach are not like most other seawalls; instead of narrowing the beach they help widen it. They have stopped the destruction of the park land, saved the parking lots, are now covered with sand, and have become part of the beach. In fact, that buried rock revetment did its job; the deep cut in the sand left by the storm stopped at or before the rocks and will fill back in over the next season or so, accelerated with some sand replacement.

Come to the supervisors meeting on March 18! More details at Write or call your supervisor and tell him or her “hands off” this important local resource.

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