Even as the county works to haul in new sand at Goleta Beach, a proposal was outlined at a public information meeting Tuesday that would address the problem of erosion by simply allowing it to happen.
While the size of the shoreline at Goleta Beach has fluctuated over the past century, the beach has all but disappeared the past several winters. To combat the erosion, the county has artificially rebuilt the beach year after year at a hefty cost. The new proposal, put forth by the Santa Barbara County Parks Dept., would address the long-term problem by relocating the two western-most parking lots and allowing the beach to move into their place.
In addition to moving the parking lots, bike paths, roads and rock revetments, as well as underground utility lines, would have to be reconfigured in order to accommodate the change.
According to Erik Axelson, the deputy director of the Santa Barbara County Parks Dept., these changes will restore the sand to the beach.
“By taking away the asphalt, the sand and beach can reclaim that area,” Axelson said. “That represents over an acre of land that can be used for beach activities and water-dependent recreation.”
The proposal includes the construction of an alternative parking lot north of the beach and a water taxi service to transport passengers down the Goleta Slough for a 10-minute ride to the park. The plan also looks to add a shuttle bus and a walking path along the slough.
Dean Placner, a member of the Surfrider Foundation, voiced his support of the environmentally conscious plan at the meeting.
“Where the land meets the sea, the sea always wins, so I encourage you to continue working with the environment,” he said.
The original Goleta Beach proposal adopted last year called for additions to the Goleta Pier in order to curb erosion, but was struck down by the California Coastal Commission in July.
The current project is still in the design phase, and the final cost has not been fully assessed. Park officials estimate that it will be less costly than the original $12 million concept.
Axelson said the project outlines a creative solution to allow natural erosion.
“We wanted to take a fresh look,” Axelson said. “We really emphasize looking outside the box.”