Ahead of Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting on the issue, several members of Friends of Goleta Beach joined Goleta City Councilmember Roger Aceves — who is running against incumbent Janet Wolf for 2nd District supervisor — at the park on Monday morning to defend their position on protecting the grassy park with rock revetments.
The environmental community has long said that the rocks will cause more harm than good — including the loss of the sandy beach — and suggest removing them and possibly employing other protection methods. Aceves was backed by Friends members Ed de la Torre, Michael Rattray, Beachside Bar-Café co-owner Dave Hardy, and former Santa Barbara city councilmember Dan Secord, who ran against Wolf twice.
“What’s the answer [Wolf’s] going to give to the 1.5 million people who use this park?” Aceves asked after pointing out the parking lots, playground equipment, and picnic areas that could be lost if the environmentalists’ “managed retreat” plan is forwarded to the Coastal Commission by the supervisors on Tuesday. “She, I hope, would show some leadership on this.”
Wolf hasn’t said which plan she will vote for — there are seven options available — but said on Friday that the project’s environmental impact report shows what would happen if the rocks are removed and that will guide her decision. “This is not about political gamesmanship — this is a serious issue,” she said Monday. “I’m continuing to treat it as such. The residents in our community deserve no less.”
The City of Goleta has also joined the fight against the “managed retreat” plan, including sending a letter to the board on Friday that alleged that the county is violating state law in its handling of the process — a process county staff has said is allowed — and threatening to sue the county if the decision isn’t postponed. The City, along with Aceves and his colleagues Jim Farr and Michael Bennett, has been supportive of the project’s second alternative, which would allow the rocks to remain for 20 years while other protective measures are tested.
Aceves said on Monday that he would also be fine with the option that does nothing but obtain permits — some were installed legally, some illegally, and some with now-expired emergency permits — for the rocks to remain in place. “We’ll protect this park forever — for our kids, for our grandkids,” Aceves said. He added that his “campaign is more than Goleta Beach” but that it is “a good comparison on leadership and lack of leadership.”
Brian Trautwein of the Environmental Defense Center — which is advocating the “managed retreat” scheme along with the Surfrider Foundation, as well as other non-rock protective methods — spoke after Aceves’s press conference, saying that the early-March storm “underscores” his camp’s point that the rocks, although protecting the park, can cause a loss of sand. “Nobody wants to go to Goleta Beach and have no beach,” he said, adding that there are “a variety of answers” to the beach’s future. One of the possible compromises includes removing the rocks and installing a cobble berm. In a storm, Trautwein said, the cobbles would help deflect the waves’ energy.
The supervisors will discuss Goleta Beach on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building at 105 East Anapamu Street.