Representatives from the Santa Barbara Parks Department last week hosted the first of what will be a number of public discussions concerning the Cabrillo Bathhouse. Pat O’Toole and Teresa Penbrooke of Greenplay LLC were also at the event, having been brought on as consultants for potential redevelopment and refurbishment projects at the aging facility. Greenplay is a recreation and outdoor consulting firm based out of Lafayette Colorado.

O’Toole unveiled the results of research they’ve conducted on the community’s perception of the building and its current usage. The issues raised included concerns about the homeless who frequent the bathhouse, to whether or not the actual name is logical anymore. “I’ve never bathed there … ” said one member of the audience.

A survey is not part of Greenplay’s “process,” so getting an accurate picture of how the community at large feels about the facility may prove difficult. The one thing that that everyone present could agree upon was that tourists don’t really know what goes on at the bathhouse and that it seems far too disconnected from the activity that occurs on the nearby beach. The facility, built in 1926, currently houses a gym, shower, locker room, and restaurant.

Santa Barbarans have been going to East Beach for years to play volleyball, so much so that a subculture of enthusiasts exists who play nearly every day. But, because of the shortened days in the winter, they’re usually forced to quit early (if they get out there at all), so lights on the volleyball courts were something that the citizens in attendance would like to see happen.

“Our department is making this a high priority,” said Jill Zachary, assistant director of Parks and Recreation. “We’ve wanted to improve upon this building for a long time, to make it better. And so we’re excited to finally get the ball rolling.”


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