ATF Shoreline Armoring Goleta Beach

From ActCoastal

Month November
Year 2016
Summary This is a request by Santa Barbara County to amend a permit granted with conditions to include after-the-fact authorization for installation and retention of 3 sections of geotextile cells filled with cobble and earth that are located downcoast of the approved rock revetment and are approx. 10-20 ft. wide, 9-12 ft. high, and total 415 linear ft. at back of beach and within central lawn area of Goleta Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County.

In May 2015, the Commission approved the retention of a 1,200 ft. rock revetment at the west end of the beach park for a 20 year limited, conditional term in order to protect the park’s public recreational facilities and utilities during periods of erosion. However, storm damage during the 2015/2016 El Niño season significantly eroded the unprotected beach and lawn area in the central portion of the park located downcoast of the approved rock revetment, created sinkholes and crevasses within the lawn area, and threatened existing park facilities. In March 2016, the County applied for, and received, an Emergency CDP to backfill the sinkholes with cobble and compacted soil.

However, in response to rapidly changing conditions in the field, the County installed the geotextile cells that are the subject of this permit amendment in three discrete sections or reaches along a 415 foot length of the park’s eroded lawn area.

The amendment proposes to retain the unpermitted development. Staff recommended approval with conditions that require re-evaluate the plan after 20 years or if the revetment is exposed for 24 months in total from the date of permit issuance.

Outcome Red Dot.png
Outcome Description The County violated its permit on several occasions in the first year. They used unpermitted heavy machinery for emergency construction, failed to remove debris and litter and groomed the beach during the grunion season. In addition, the rock revetment that was supposed to be buried under the sand was exposed, impeding safe pedestrian access to the beach and exacerbating beach erosion - all without any environmental review process or alternatives analysis. In a sense, all of the concerns with hard armoring of the coast came true in just one year of this structure’s existence.

There was a general consensus that the public park meant to be protected by the armoring does deserve protection. It is a highly utilized park and important community resource. The grievance lies in the type of protection chosen and the lack of environmental and alternatives analysis that took place.

Several Commissioners expressed concern about consistency when evaluating shoreline armoring development. Noting that now is the time to “walk the walk” with sea level rise planning to protect our public beaches. Other Commissioners did not seem to be concerned with early planning and remarked that we could deal with the shoreline armoring in twenty years or so - which goes against the policy approach established in the Coastal Commission’s Sea level Rise Policy Guidance document and the in prior precedent setting Commission permits including the direction of the Marin LCP Environmental Hazards update which was the subject of the day before.

Ultimately, the Commission decided to approve the ATF development, agreeing that sufficient triggers existed in staff’s conditions to allow re-evaluation of the development should they continue to violate their permit.

Why You Should Care This project demonstrates the importance of adherence to the previously adopted Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance and that local projects can reflect issues of statewide significance.

Hard armoring is currently, and unfortunately, the most prevalent solution to coastal erosion and means of protecting infrastructure against the effects of sea level rise, wave events, and storm surges. The armoring at Goleta Beach clearly demonstrates the issues created with hard armoring of our coast, the importance of planning for sea level rise and considering all project alternatives including the least environmentally harmful.

Additionally, asking for forgiveness rather than permission with unpermitted shoreline protection must not be tolerated by the Commission as it may set a dangerous precedent of backwards permitting that undermines the Coastal Act at its core.

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Decision Type CDP amendment of ATF development
Staff Recommendation Approval with Conditions
Staff Report
Opposition to Project Surfrider Foundation
Coastal Act Policies Chapter 3

Voting Detail for ATF Shoreline Armoring Goleta Beach

Individual vote detail for Issue: ATF Shoreline Armoring Goleta Beach
Martha McClureBad Vote
Donne BrownseyAbsent for Vote
Erik HowellBad Vote
Greg CoxBad Vote
Carole GroomGood Vote
Wendy MitchellBad Vote
Mark VargasBad Vote
Steve KinseyBad Vote
Roberto UrangaBad Vote
Mary LuevanoGood Vote
Mary K. ShallenbergerGood Vote
Dayna BochcoGood Vote

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