<b>AT LONG LAST:</b> After much speculation about what the future of Goleta Beach would hold, the supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to request a permit for the current rock revetments. Janet Wolf — supervisor of the district in which the beach is located — spearheaded the board’s plan.

Paul Wellman

AT LONG LAST: After much speculation about what the future of Goleta Beach would hold, the supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to request a permit for the current rock revetments. Janet Wolf — supervisor of the district in which the beach is located — spearheaded the board’s plan.

Rock On, Goleta Beach

Supes to Ask Coastal Commission to Permit Revetments

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
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After discussing everything they could do for Goleta Beach Park, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to do only one thing: ask the Coastal Commission to permit the rock revetments.

The presence of the rocks — some were installed legally, some illegally, and some with now-expired emergency permits — has long divided the community, with rock supporters maintaining that the revetments protect the lawn and its amenities but environmental groups just as vehemently saying the rocks only protect the park at the expense of the beach, making for a loss of sand and a permanent bluff over time.

Tuesday’s meeting was no different, with supporters on both sides — although the ratio skewed toward the rock-favoring representatives of Friends of Goleta Beach and the City of Goleta over the removal-favoring Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and Surfrider Foundation — packing the boardroom. The project before the supervisors Tuesday was the latest in the years-long effort by the county to address the popular beach’s future — it attracts 1.5 million visitor annually — which is believed to be jeopardized by climate change and projected sea level rise. After more than two hours of staff presentation and public testimony from approximately 40 speakers who all said how much they love Goleta Beach, 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf, in whose district the park lies, took the lead.

Janet Wolf
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Janet Wolf

“My commitment to the long-term sustainability should go without saying,” she said, noting what she said has been “far too much rhetoric, political theater, legal threats, and personal threats” surrounding the issue. She continued, noting the board’s approval in recent years of replacing the nearby 40-year-old sewer lift station and the park’s bridge and denying a motion for parking fees. No matter people’s position on what’s best for Goleta Beach — keeping the rocks or removing them, or some hybrid plan — Wolf said her constituents are “desirous of some certainty” and that her goal on Tuesday was “to attempt to bring some measure of closure” to the matter by requesting a permit for the 1,200 feet of rocks and nothing more. “I know this alternative is one that may come as a surprise to many and a disappointment to some,” she said.

The option chosen, known in Goleta Beach Park project parlance as Alternative 5, was one of seven the board could have forwarded to the Coastal Commission. The most controversial among them was the project’s environmental study–recommended “managed retreat” scheme, which would have seen the removal of the 1,200 feet of rocks, the loss (and later potential relocation) of more than 100 parking spots, the transplantation of gas and water lines and the Highway 217–adjacent bike path, and the damage to nearly three acres of the grassy park for the benefit of the sandy beach.

Five of the other choices involved simply removing the rocks, removing them but installing a wave-energy-deflecting cobble berm, keeping the rocks but moving them park-ward over time, and — in the plan supported by Friends of Goleta Beach and the City of Goleta — retaining the rocks in place for 20 years while other protective measures, such as a cobble berm and Canary Island date palm trees, were analyzed. The “managed retreat” plan would have cost the county more than $4 million, and the most expensive measure would have cost nearly $23 million. To keep the rocks will cost nothing.

“It seems like a three-time winner to me,” said 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr after quickly seconding Wolf’s proposal. Farr, acknowledging the “passion” evoked by the issue, explained her vote for keeping the rocks as one based on what’s best for visitors, the environment, and the county’s finances. Supervisors Salud Carbajal, Steve Lavagnino, and Peter Adam — who kicked off the meeting by delving into his bitter history with one of the project’s environmental-study consultants — all concurred but declined to say much.

Those who did say much included representatives from the City of Goleta, which has long voiced its support for retaining the rocks and last week threatened the county with legal action over its handling of the project’s process. Councilmember Roger Aceves, who is challenging Wolf for her seat in the June primary and announced his candidacy in September at the beach, said that people want the park and its amenities to be protected. “It’s not about the beach; it’s about the park,” he said. “If you look at this last storm, it did exactly what you wanted it to do. That’s what 1.5 million people per year expect, for the park to be saved.”

Aceves also addressed several supervisors individually, asking Carbajal and Farr about the protections in their districts. To Adam, Aceves mentioned the millions of dollars the other plans would cost, possibly to the financial detriment of maintaining county-owned roads, buildings, and parks — a cause Adam is taking to the June ballot in Measure M.

“If we retain the rocks, we will lose the beach,” countered Brian Trautwein of the EDC. “We’ve done soul-searching,” he continued, saying the EDC were willing to give up the “managed retreat” plan. “Let’s work together on a compromise plan.” The EDC’s “middle of the road” approach would have involved installing the aforementioned cobble berm but removing the rocks and some parking spots and relocating the utility lines.

Farr challenged Trautwein on whether the Coastal Commission would approve a cobble berm. Whether the Coastal Commission will approve a permit for the rocks remains to be seen. If they do, the decision will head back to the County Planning Commission, whose say will be final unless appealed to either the supervisors or the Coastal Commission.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Thanks to Sup. Janet Wolf who had the courage to stand up and do the right thing. It's shocking that there were personal threats against her.

The BOS should also do some studies of the beach, perhaps enlisting Bren or other geology students into the effort, if Bren is too tainted by an affiliation with UCSB.

As for EDC, it's clear it is a good marketer -see all those letters in the file that parrot the same thing, word for word. And it may be a good law firm. And it certainly is a valuable addition to SB. But it needs to back down. In the same way that Hatch and Parent caused State Water to be brought to Santa Barbara County, EDC seems to think that it should be a policy maker. Hopefully, this overwhelming defeat will cause it to back down. It's single-mindedness on this has seriously cost its credibility.

The "environment", when it's a question of a public park, does include people and that is particularly so for a beach park; people are an important consideration for the Coastal Commission.

citti (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 7:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Janet's action emasculated Aceves by taking a major campaign issue off the table for the upcoming election. Now the only thing he has to froth and spew about is the revenue neutrality agreement which is a non-issue to most 2nd District voters.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 9:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

“If we retain the rocks, we will lose the beach,”... Oh BS. You will lose the beach because you have dammed the rivers and and aren't removing the silt from Lake Cachuma and Gibraltar reservoir. This guy needs to pull his head out. They need to put MORE rocks in..and truck the silt from cachuma and put it out there. This would have a two fold effect, increase capacity of the reservoirs and replenish the sand on the beach Mr Trautweiner.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 10:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A bold analysis by discoboy. Will it work for Aceves?

Methinks Roger Turbanhead Aceves instead will have a lot to brag about with momentum up through the election on June 10th. But in his typical fashion he is a sore winner by declaring victory and then chitting on Janet Wolf for allowing this 10-year beach planning process to continue as it has.

That all reveals even more about the character of Aceves and how he would govern if ever elected to anything else.

Wolf indeed cleared off an annoying election issue and the rest is up to her team for winning a third term on broader issues than Goleta Beach. Aceves still has to prove he is more than a two-note samba candidate, the second of which indeed is the bizarro Revenue Neutrality Agreement that he and his 12 friends care about.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 10:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

good call. leave the rocks.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 11:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Gee Bimboteskie, you are the first geologist that I have heard to suggest that silt from the Santa Ynez River outfall north of Point Conception actually makes it around the corner to nurture the beachs on the south coast of Santa Barbara County. You should publish a paper! Secondly, have you any idea what it would cost in money, energy, and air pollution to truck significant amounts of silt from Cachuma to the coast? It would probably be cheaper than it was to send all that sand from California to Waikiki Beach to replenish the sand that washed away as a result of Hawaii's coastal armoring project, but not a lot cheaper. Who would pay for that project? People should start planning on coming up with an alternative plan for when the Coastal Commission denies this one next year. I suggest that the Friends of Goleta Beach start meeting with the Surfriders now, so that by next year they have a consensus project that they can present to the County. This isn't over.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 12:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have a lot of mixed feelings on this whole thing. I tend to say if it's a beach, let it be a beach. The best argument I've heard for the park is that there isn't very many places for the more elderly and disabled to enjoy beach access, and that is true. Elderly and disabled people do better on grass and cement than on sand and there are certainly plenty of open beaches in the area for everyone else to enjoy unencumbered.

On the other hand, I'm not a big fan of grass since it takes a lot of water.. however this area being surrounded by water, it probably takes little watering to keep the grass green.

I think the best solution might be to expand the beach out, decrease the amount of grass while simultaneously increasing the density of the bbqs, benches and usable infrastructure available to beach goers. Maybe even look into an environmentally friendly turf approved by the Coastal Commission so it doesn't need to be watered. I think the same amount of people can be accommodated in a smaller area, and more beach will mean more area for people to enjoy that as well. A parking lot on the other side of the road with some sort of path that perhaps goes under the road may be an option as well?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 1:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

With the election a mere 12 weeks away, what the motion and unanimous vote by Janet Wolf will render (per Eckermann comment above):

"People should start planning on coming up with an alternative plan for when the Coastal Commission denies this one next year. I suggest that the Friends of Goleta Beach start meeting with the Surfriders now, so that by next year they have a consensus project that they can present to the County. This isn't over."

Did Aceves really win anything here, or did he just get what he asked for and eliminate his perhaps only issue to inspire any votes for him a mere 11 weeks from now?

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 1:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ed DeLa Torre and this election were why Janet switched her position on this project. It's political. Janet was losing and knew it. BUT, HOORAY for those of us who grew up on that beach, raised our kids out there, and at least for now, have a chance for their kids to enjoy it. As for Trotski and the rest of the EDC enviros for hire, reality for those of us who go there, those rocks did what they were suppose to do. Prevent further erosion (loss) during the most recent storm.

As for EDC and Surfriders, continued opposition only reaffirm what a lot of people already think that have followed this project for over 10 don't care what the community supports, only what you do. Any compromise that you have ever discussed is not a compromise. All your ideas focus on removing the rocks and a whole host of managed retreat scenarios. Anything short of that is unacceptable to you. So therefore, you will go before the Commission and oppose the protection measures and push for rock removal with no definite alternative for keeping the beach size and demographics as is.

As for moving parking, you can't on the other side of the road since it's a waterway. Closest relocation would be 1/4 to 1/2 mile away. And please, don't go on about shuttle services unless you have any idea of the cost involved and how to pack a family of 6 with toys, beach chairs, food and snacks into a shuttle.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 1:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Nice work BeachFan. Agreed. I remember a few years back, maybe quite a few, when they were trying to clean out the channels for flood control, they actually had a ramp where they were backing semi's down to the beach and unloading the silt into the water at the north end. Went well and it seemed to help the beach quite a bit the following few years. The rocks are buried most of the time anyway and seem to be a non issue except for extreme years. I think the rock wall should be placed the entire length of the grass in a similar fashion to what is on the south side of the pier. With some sand replenishment, many of these items would be non issues. Now would be a great time to do it with everything exposed.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 2:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oops, copy edit needed in my 2nd paragraph which should read, unless Bren is too tainted with its affiliation with EDC.

What's needed are studies on Goleta Beach Park, sand movement, but also showings of how the beach fluctuates, as was discussed yesterday. What is not needed is more of Aceves's political posturing, or EDC's marketing - surely, getting so many emails, all saying similarly, using the same words, phrases, can not be helpful.

Plenty of sand being removed regularly and now from the SB harbor - probably cheaper to move it west to Goleta than to excavate and transport sand from the reservoirs.

citti (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 2:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Congratulations Beach Fan on your victory (if you can actually call it that). You deserve to feel good. However, in my experience, while righteous indignation and nostalgia feel good, neither emotion is likely to produce positive results. After the first flush of victory subsides a bit, I would recommend that you begin to think about what you are going to do once the Coastal Commission denies the County's request for a permit for the revetment. It may feel good to deride the Surfriders and EDC with bitter invective and name-calling, and it certainly makes for entertaining blogging. However, if saving the grassy park is your goal, you may want to focus your energies on a more collaborative approach.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 4:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Collaboration requires willing participants. Not something EDC or Surfriders have been. It's not a victory for's a victory for Goleta Beach users. Both those like me who are native born and those that have moved here, call it home and treasure the jewel that is Goleta Beach. Maybe you should have gone to the hearing and listened to trotski's effluence. It's been going on for years. It's unfortunate the Coastal Commission may do just that after petitioning by EDC and Surfriders contrary to the will of residents. It they actually cared about the community, their support of the status quo at the CCC may lead to it's adoption. But alas, they don't care. Never have, never will. Want to support environmental groups in SB? Donate to the Natural History Museum or Sierra Club.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 8:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Having been an admirer of EDC and Surfriders over the years, I was disappointed how they chose Goleta Beach as their battle ground to push their no rock initiative. Their refusal to acknowledge how important the Park is to so many, including people that have a hard time going to any other beach due to inaccessibility, like the elderly, handicapped, and people of low income, came across as being pretty cold. At this Park, pavement and grass are worth as much as sand. Maybe the Sups voted politically correct, but it was the reasonable and correct one too. Who knows what the CCC will say, but one thing is for sure - managing erosion at the Park will be a long and winding road.

sandcastle (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 9:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Beach Fan, I have enjoyed Goleta Beach since you were probably a small child. My children had many birthday parties there. It was my younger daughter's favorite beach (because of the playground) before she discovered Haskells and surfing. I remember the loss of other jewels, like Stanley's, which was destroyed to make a freeway off ramp. You assume that EDC and Surfriders don't care, but that just shows that you don't know that those groups were born out of loss, loss of open space, loss of beach, loss of surf spots, loss of habitat for wild things. They understand loss. All you seem to care about is a little patch of turf with a barbeque pit on it.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2014 at 10:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"A little patch of turf"? Seems like it's more than just me who cares about the park amenities and access that would be lost under any managed retreat scenario. They should pick other battles as sandcastle said than to shove their retreat ideas (aka loss of beach, turf, picnic areas and parking) at this particular jewel. Go out there on any afternoon and asked the disabled, seniors or families on that "little patch of turf" what they think about losing this area. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess what their answer would be.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
March 20, 2014 at 8:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Don't forget, people, the California Coastal Commission bats last on this one.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
March 20, 2014 at 9:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Managed Retreat? The managed retreat is all sitting up right behind Cachuma dam. Someone should sue the Coastal Commission for allowing the beaches to disappear due to the lack of silt removal form one side of the dam to the other. I think the EDC and Surfriders have a case of tubular tunnel vision. Not everyone has to be a surfer, or a birdwatcher to enjoy the beach. Special interest gone awry. I am sure there are a ton more private beaches that could be focused on but instead they seem to receive a "get out of jail free card" regarding managed retreat and plover habitat. Hopefully the CCC will grasp this concept some day.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
March 20, 2014 at 10:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Not to forget that the ocean already chewed up a nice chunk of lawn and Park area and converted it back to beach with raging surf in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. It will get it all back in 100+ years with sea level rise, so let us enjoy what is left of the Park in the mean time.

sandcastle (anonymous profile)
March 20, 2014 at 1:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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