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A group of Santa Barbara community members submitted a formal complaint to the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury to stop the implementation of Goleta Beach 2.0, a plan to review and renovate the Goleta Beach County Park.
Goleta Beach 2.0 is a plan designed to restore the park through environmental-friendly means. However, the local organization Friends of Goleta Beach Park has stated there are better alternatives to the current plan.
According to Ed de la Torre, representative of Friends of Goleta Beach Park, Goleta Beach 2.0 requires the government to spend unnecessary amounts of tax-funded expenditures to renovate Goleta Beach. Goleta Beach 2.0 diminishes the value of the park because its high costs harshly impact certain groups, and there would be loss of 150 parking spaces in addition to other negative changes, de la Torre said.
“In our perspective, [Goleta Beach 2.0] diminishes the value — reducing parking [and] grass picnic areas by [over] 20 percent decreases recreational value…This is not going to be cheap,” de la Torre said. “A lot of people are going to be disenfranchised,”
De la Torre said the Goleta Beach Park is an important city landmark that attracts many visitors each year, so the group is willing to take whatever measures necessary to protect the site. He said the organization is drafting a formal complaint requesting the Grand Jury to reevaluate the plan, decrease funding for the project and potentially implement alternatives that Friends of Goleta Beach Park is offering.
“[It’s] important because it’s such a recreational asset in the community and visited by 1.5 million people a year,” de la Torre said. “Our goal is to save and protect the park,”
According to Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, who oversees three county parks, the goal of the project is to improve the beach so that its recreational resources could be used to their full potential. Wolf said the public had numerous opportunities to voice their concerns regarding the public project.
“One of the things they look for is the impact of recreational resources. When the Board of Supervisors initiate review for the 2.0 project, there is a sequence of review process [that follows],” Wolf said. “The public was invited to comment and to be aware that the purpose of the review process is to investigate the impact of any purposed projects.”
The project is currently in the environmental review phase, and it must undergo many review processes before going to the board, Wolf said.
“We will also look at alternatives,” Wolf said. “The planning commission takes it and then more public comments and then it will come to the Board of Supervisors.”
Amber Geraghty of the California Coastal Commission said they will also take public input into consideration when deciding whether or not to approve or deny proposals. Geraghty said such proposals first come before Coastal Commission and then Santa Barbara County sends in applications to the Coastal Commission, and it is up to Commission members to approve or deny the applications.
“As for the complaint made by Friends of Goleta Beach Park, any kind of public input we would take into consideration,” Geraghty said. “It is very important to the Commission that we consider different group views of the project.”
Despite the complaint, 25 year-old environmental organization Santa Barbara Surfrider Foundation supports Goleta Beach 2.0.
According to Surfrider Foundation representative Everett Lipman, the Foundation has protected the coastal environment from construction damages for the past 20 years, with Goleta Beach 2.0 being just another addition to that long tradition.
“Our chapter works to protect the local environment, ensure beach access and preserve undeveloped coastal land,” Lipman said. “We support the Goleta Beach 2.0 because it will provide more sandy beach and preserve the park without environmentally damaging the coastal armor.”
Lipman also said the new beach park plan has been developed following California Coastal Commission guidelines and the plan itself avoids most environmentally harmful methods of restoration.
“The Goleta Beach 2.0 plan has been developed according to guidelines given to the County by the California Coastal Commission,” Lipman said. “[It] does not involve any armoring, and instead moves utility lines and other vulnerable structures further back from the ocean.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF countyofSB.org
The pier at Goleta Beach. A plan to rennovate the county park, known as “Goleta Beach 2.0,” has
recently been formally contested by various community members and the Friends of Goleta Beach Park.
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of March 8th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus