The Shoreline Preservation Fund (SPF) voted Monday night to donate $80,000 over the next two years to help fund the renovation of three Isla Vista beach access stairways that sustained damage during this year’s winter storms.
John McInnes, of the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Works, said repairs to the accessways are estimated to cost $366,099. He said the county will contribute $136,099 in addition to SPF’s funding, and the county is also asking the Coastal Conservancy to give $150,000 toward the project. The money would be used to replace existing hardware, add new continuous steel handrails and install stainless steel support structures to the existing wooden parts of the Camino del Sur, Camino Pescadero, and Escondido staircases that provide beach access to Del Playa Drive.
In a 6-to-1 vote, SPF decided to contribute $40,000 a year for two consecutive years in order to meet the county’s request. SPF Grants Manager Scott Bull said the project would affect a large number of students.
“By funding this project, SPF will gain long-term positive exposure,” Bull said.
Derek Johnson, Isla Vista Parks and Recreation District (IVRPD) general manager, said construction work to protect the structures against further damage from the ocean will begin as soon as the county receives the necessary funds.
IVRPD will receive a $65,000 endowment from project’s total budget to maintain the stairways once renovations are complete, Johnson said.
“Wood alone cannot compete with the impact the waves dish out on a daily basis,” he said.
As part of SPF’s grant, board members added a stipulation that requires a physical mark near the accessways that states the group’s contribution to the renovation.
McInnes said public safety is the main reason for the renovations. The stairways are currently in poor condition due to recent heavy rains and erosion, he said.
“Obviously this project is good for the community, but it also provides … means for coastal access to beach accidents,” McInnes said. “If there is a surfing accident, for example, we need a safe way to get down to them.”
McInnes said storm drains that carry runoff water near the base located underneath the stairs would also be renovated at each site. The lining of drainage pipes will be replaced with new slip-line plastic liners to protect the drains against future rust, he said.
“If the pipes fail, water will leak into the earth under the houses,” McInnes said. “We definitely want to protect these properties from the slides. The stairways were built over two decades ago and what we want to do is to improve them so they last longer in the future.”
McInnes said each of the three accessways the county currently maintains will be improved in different ways. The Camino Pescadero and Escondido stairways will receive the most renovations including a full flight of stairs at the lower section, which takes the most hits from high surf.
He said the Escondido stairway will have its existing wood planks replaced with new pressure treated wood on areas that do not receive direct effect from the waves, and the Camino Pescadero accessway will also receive a new concrete stair block at the bottom.