The journey from land to sand should become safer in the next few months, once local officials work out the final details of a project that will reinforce three I.V. beach accessways.

Renovation work is scheduled to begin on the beach access points at Camino Pescadero, Camino del Sur and Escondido Pass in the months to come, after the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) and Santa Barbara County finalize the construction plans for each site. IVRPD General Manager Derek Johnson said the modifications would entail replacing the existing wooden stairways and walls with steel structures, which are better suited to endure high waves and heavy rainfall during the winter. The IVRPD is currently working to notify all of the residents living within 500 feet of each renovation site.

“We’re going to retrofit all three beach accessways with stainless steel and do some re-engineering,” Johnson said. “Wood doesn’t stand up to waves, and we want to make sure when a big storm or swell comes it doesn’t wipe them out.”

Johnson said the estimated $390,000 cost of the project would be funded by the county, with help from grants provided by the Shoreline Preservation Fund and the California Coastal Conservancy.

Shoreline Preservation Fund Grants Manager Scott Bull said his organization has contributed $80,000 to renovating the beach accessways – money he said will supplement the $150,000 provided by the Coastal Conservancy. Bull said the Shoreline Preservation Fund decided to grant the money to help mitigate future problems created by winter storms, which force yearly closures of certain access points.

“We thought maintaining beach accessways is important for the community and for the I.V. community at large,” Bull said. “They have been in disrepair every year, and when we have winter storms they close.”

Bull also said the Shoreline Preservation Fund has urged the IVRPD and county to use some of the funding to relandscape the area around each of the beach accessways and increase their aesthetic appeal.

“We hope to get some dedication signs out there, and we asked that part of our money goes to vegetation,” Bull said. “We want to make them more inviting.”

Logan Green, chair of the IVRPD Board of Directors, said he expects the project to help ensure that local residents can visit the beach safely during any time of year.

“[Accessways are] shut down a lot of the year during storms,” Green said. “We want to keep them open and keep them looking good, and make sure that people can get to the beach from all the different access points during the year.”

Once the renovations are complete, Johnson said, the IVRPD hopes to transfer maintenance of the beach access points – currently controlled by the county – over to the park district.

“The county is giving us the land and money to maintain the accessways in perpetuity,” Johnson said. “They’re paying for improvements and we’re just helping out with the process and permits and getting funds for the project.”

John McInnes, Innovative Projects manager for the county said he hopes the construction on the beach access points can be completed within the next six months. He said the county has not yet made any formal decision to transfer control of the property over to the IVRPD, but his office will recommend that the board of supervisors do so once the renovation project completed.

“The concept behind [the transfer] is the IVRPD is out there – they have maintenance crews, and they’re in the community, and they’re also in the business of recreation,” McInnes said.