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Monday, August 03, 2009

Coastal Commission Denies Santa Barbara County Beach Armoring in Resounding 9-1 vote

"The Coastal Commission has sent a clear message to the County," explained Linda Krop, chief counsel of the Environmental Defense Center. "A hard structure such as groin will rob downcoast beaches of sand, causing bluffs and beaches to erode."

According to EDC environmental analyst Brian Trautwein, "This decision is a victory for beaches and people who love the coast. The proposed groin would have required ongoing dredging off Goleta Beach, causing beach and park closures, as well as air and water pollution."

Maintenance work being done in January 2003 to the previous beach erosion fix, a rock wall. Paul Wellman (file)

EDC and Surfrider hired the engineering firm Phillip Williams and Associates (PWA) to critique the County's proposal, and develop an alternative, long term plan for Goleta Beach. PWA designed the Park Reconfiguraton Alternative (PRA) to protect the entire length of beach by relocating threatened facilities and park amenities, while retaining the restaurant, lawn area and parking lot. EDC and Surfrider submitted over 580 letters in opposition to the groin and in favor of the alternative.

Although Commission staff found the alternative to be both feasible and environmentally superior, the staff recommended against the alternative on the grounds that 1.3 acres of turf could be lost. However, this assertion was refuted by EDC and PWA at the hearing.

At the end of the hearing, the Commissioners advised the County to consider an option that respects and incorporates natural processes, and plans for future sea level rise. "We are pleased that environmental solutions are back on the table," said Scott Bull, Santa Barbara Chapter Surfrider representative and member of the County's original Goleta Beach Working Group. "Surfrider remains committed to a plan that protects the beach, the Park, and the environment."

EDC and Surfrider hope to work with the County to develop a workable, environmentally-sensitive solution.

Read the Santa Barbara Independant coverage of this story here - http://www.independent.com/news/2009/jul/09/coastal-commission-denies-permeable-pile-pier/