In an effort to preserve the Gaviota Coast from development at Naples, the Isla Vista chapter of the Surfrider Foundation held its ninth annual Concert for the Coast on Saturday.
The festival, held in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park, attracted crowds from noon through the evening, with local bands like Other Nature and Blue Turtle Seduction rocking out in the name of environmental fundraising. Surfrider volunteer Nikles Elinger said the annual event was one of many steps the foundation has taken to protect the open space from a potential housing development.
“We’re trying to stall the development of Naples and keep the coast pristine,” Elinger said. “We go to all the hearings, we send letters to local businesses. [There’s] two to three miles [of coast threatened by developers] – they just want to put in houses on the whole thing.”
All the concert’s proceeds were donated to the Naples Coalition, which is an organization dedicated to preserving the Gaviota Coast. Much of the foods were donated and sold cheaply, with the I.V. Food Co-Op providing the snacks, while New Belgium Brewing Company – makers of Fat Tire – set up a large beer garden. Furthermore, WetSand Surf Company donated a surfboard and New Belgium donated a bike, both of which were sold to benefit the Naples Coalition.
Former Surfrider volunteer Matt Ward said that, while money will always be an issue, conserving the Gaviota Coast is necessary for Santa Barbara and its surfers.
“Naples Coast is a pristine environment – you don’t get another in the proximity between San Diego and Santa Barbara,” Ward said. “Look back in the history of surfing – thousands of people have utilized that coast. You have to grab hold of the last few places so you can maintain a rural surf environment.”
Booths lined the entrance to Anisq’ Oyo’, with information and methods for visitors to take direct action in protecting local habitats. Snowy Plover Docent Coordinator Jennifer Stroh passed out flyers encouraging beachgoers to respect the boundaries protecting the Snowy Plover – the tiny, speedy bird that nests on Sands Beach – while still enjoying the seaside. The boundaries are imperative to keeping the Plovers safe, Stroh said.
“Sands Beach is really popular for students,” Stroh said. “People like to surf, sun tan and exercise, but it’s also a really important spot for Snowy Plovers. Their nesting season is from March 15 to Sept. 15. If they move, they die; too much energy is spent flying away.”
Santa Barbara Councilman Das Williams attended the festival as well. When interviewed, Williams said he was concerned about developers seeking to turn Naples into a large housing tract with over 50 mansions. However, Williams said, there is still a possibility that developers and environmentalists can reach a compromise.
“[We’re] working to try to transfer development rights to other locations,” Williams said. “But that takes money and political will.”