Surfrider's Santa Barbara chapter has been involved with the Gaviota Coast Plan Update for many years and provided comments along the way. Many of their suggestions have been incorporated into the plan and are reflected in California Coastal Commission's modifications. The Plan was approved by the Coastal Commission at the August hearing in Redondo Beach.
The Gaviota Coast has unique, relatively undeveloped natural coastal resources and access for all Californians to enjoy them is long overdue. The Plan, as proposed and modified by staff, includes important modifications with relation to blufftop development and public access. Surfrider supported the policies that address bluff top development and ensure consistency with the Coastal Resiliency Project. The Gaviota Coast, the unique resource that it is, deserves stringent protections and requirements for setbacks to protect those resources. The policies proposed provide greater protection to coastal bluffs from erosion and development.
Further, Surfrider supported the Plan’s public access policies. There is a great need for more vertical access opportunities and the plan as modified sets the intention toward that goal. Specifically, staff recommended modifications that new development does not interfere with the public’s right to beach access – and that without the “if feasible” loophole. The Plan also protects informal roadside parking. Such parking areas are integral to ensuring safe, equitable access to area beaches. The proposed Plan, with Coastal Commission staff’s modifications provides greater assurance that public access will be preserved and restored.
The Coastal Commission passed the Gaviota Coast Plan with staff's modifications, thereby setting the stage for improved public access and protections for the Gaviota Coast.