Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Coastal cities consider backing away from the beach

For Goleta Beach in Santa Barbara County, the best way of beating coastal erosion might very well be to just let it happen.

According to the Associated Press, Goleta Beach is one of the California locales looking into a “planned retreat” of moving roads, utilities and other developments further inland, allowing shoreline erosion to take it’s natural course.

This movement is in marked contrast to the more traditional methods of battling coastal erosion through seawalls and other barricades. As reported by AP, roughly 10 percent of California’s coastline is fortified, with a whole third of the Southern California shore behind some sort of wall.

"I like to think of it as getting out of the way gracefully," said David Revell, a senior coastal scientist involved in planned California retreats including Goleta Beach, to AP.

Goleta Beach 2.0 is the conceptual planning process established by the Santa Barbara County’s Board of Supervisors in 2009. Currently under environmental review, the $4 million plan could get start as early as next year. The plan would push gas, water and sewer lines out of what’s considered the risk zone. It would also relocate a bike path to higher ground and eliminate 150 parking spaces, allowing erosion to reclaim the land for the ocean.

In Ventura, a managed retreat program is already under way, with Surfer’s Point being renovated last summer.