~  Pierheads's ~
Goleta Pier Log

PFIC Get-Together, Goleta Pier,  July 2003.  Photo credit:  Rich Reano, webmaster,  www.pierfishing.com

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Volunteer Time:
2006 (total):    103 days, 169 hours
2007 (to date):   26 days, 43 hours

January 1st, 2007:   Still waiting for the pier to get pressure-washed ... reluctant to start hand-washing benches and other structures until the past 3 weeks' accumulation of guano is removed.  Hopefully we can get the pier decking and railings hosed off more frequently in the coming year ... weekly would be ideal but it should be done on Friday so it doesn't interfere with the increased traffic on the weekends. 

January 2nd, 2007:     Spoke with park staff - the Swap crew will bristlebrush the benches today and the pier will be hosed down this weekend.  I volunteered to empty the trash cans in the east parking lot and was given some trash bags for refills. This will allow for more timely trash removal in the most heavily used lot ... as needed instead of once a week. 

January 3rd  2007:     Benches were bristlebrushed yesterday and so I am once again handscrubbing them.  Still some dried-on stuff so I spent extra time today and will have to bring a scrubber tomorrow to get them back to 'normal'. 

January 5th, 2007:     I decided that since I empty the holding tanks in my rig and do laundry/shopping every Thursday I'd rather not have to clean the pier as well when I get back (around 10am).  So, from now on, Thursday will be my day off. 

Found a large clear plastic trash bag, filled with used tissue, in the east side parking lot up against the fence near the restaurant's dumpsters.  Maybe trash from their bathrooms?

January 6th, 2007:     Took a kitchen scrubber to the most heavily encrusted benches ... last 8 after the hoist. Was able to get them back in shape and should be easy to keep clean now with daily scrubbings. Will do the rest tomorrow and will carry a scrubber from now on to catch any dried on droppings. 

It's been 6 months since they were last restained and some of the grain is beginning to stand up.  Will suggest they be sanded and restained in February and hopefully every six months thereafter. 

Later - walked the pier at 5pm and found one of our younger regulars and 5 of his friends occupying the benches across from the mid-pier bathrooms.  Area generally a mess with stomped mussel shells everywhere, discarded line left on pier and a handful of small perch left to rot under bench.  He and his friends had strung their crab net lines from one railing to the other effectively creating a barrier. 

When I arrived there were people having to double up to pass under the lines. I asked him not to do that and got little response. Previously I had to speak to him numerous times before he (and friends) stopped riding their bicycles at break-neck speed on the pier. I think he might have an attention disorder.

January 7th, 2007:     Finished hard-scrubbing remaining benches.  Found considerable litter in the east parking lot from overnight partying.  Appears that every trash can in the lot and on the pier out to the bathrooms was emptied on the ground and most had recent 'etchings' scratched on the lids.  Also new graffiti in bathroom and on benches ... Westside and Goleta Projects logos. 

Yesterday's young regular was there again this morning and both Greenrag and I spoke to him. He was asked not to block the pier again, not to waste fish if he was not going to eat them and not to leave litter behind.  Hopefully he understood because he voluntarily repeated the 3 'rules' back to me.  Advised head ranger of problems and suggested they keep track of him and his friends when they are on the pier ... I suspect it's his group that causes most of the nonalcoholic related litter. 

Was talking with a visitor and her daughter on the pier this morning about her daughter's interest in theater arts.  I asked  if she saw herself as 'using' her art to support social change which led to a very interesting discussion about the legitimate 'uses' of art.

Both she and her mother emphasized that artists simply make the purest statement of their feelings/perceptions as they can.  That, in itself, is where art's power for social change gets it's strength ... evoking sympathetic understanding and compassion at the personal level.  According to them art belongs to the people and should be made available where the people normally gather rather than sequestered away in private galleries, museums and academia. Street art and theater.

Mentioned were various protests groups which used art to highlight their concerns such as PETA.  I objected saying that PETA's 'ads' were polarizing and not likely to change many attitudes.  I felt also that simple appeals on an emotional level just accustomed people to accept without thinking ... like the uncritical consumers society raised them to be.

I had concerns about Art in service to Propaganda using Hitler's film maker, Leni Riefenstahl and her work  "Triumph of the Will' as an example of art supporting 'fascist' emotions ... subordinating the individual to the collective will in return for protection by the state.  I related that during the '60's I had seen mob driven behavior creep into even good causes. Now I am reluctant to endorse 'mass protest' as such or any approach that excludes classes of people or causes undue polarization.  I  prefer personal statements expressed in simple uncomplicated acts ... 'boy scout behavior'.

People seem genuinely delighted to find someone who freely volunteers their time to keep a public space open and presentable. I've always been inspired by such individuals and looked forward to the time I could join their ranks.  In Carpinteria there was an older gentleman who patrolled the city streets in his 3-wheel scooter picking up trash ... every morning come rain or shine there he was with his orange vest proclaiming his commitment to 'Carpinteria Beautiful'. Such commitment resonates with our, albeit sometimes residual, idealism and is offered as a small corrective for our negative, cynical and pessimistic times. 

And for those who complain that the authorities are not doing enough ... the County financially may not be able to upgrade their level of care at the pier but but there is no opposition to volunteerism. And, who knows, maybe in time the public will come to expect and support a cleaner pier. 

January 8th, 2007:     Benches are a place to sit and ponder. Perhaps more informal philosophical  and other 'meaningful conversations' are hosted on benches than any other public structure ...

   ... however,  benches adorned with guano do not get used .  This is how the decking and last 8-10  benches on the pier look most  mornings.  The first 13 benches, although not used for overnight roosting, need a daily wipe-down as well since anglers use them to cut up bait and stuff gets spilled on them.

Deciding today if I should stop removing the graffiti ... it's the most disheartening part of the job since it is never ending.  Frankly, by the time I finish picking up the trash and wiping bird guano I don't relish going back out for another round ... as it is even starting at 7am I am not through until at least 8:30 and that's if I rush and don't talk to anyone.

I rather take my time and do it right and still finish early enough to enjoy most of the morning (best time of day for me). The job consists of hand-scrubbing 24 benches, 13 trash cans (plus 4 more in the East parking lot), 4 fish cleaning  stations, 5 electrical junction boxes, 6 informational signs, 6 life ring containers, 2 handicap fishing platforms, 3 drinking fountains  and 8 standpipes.  In addition I pick up all trash on the pier and in the east parking lot on a daily basis as well.  Those are significant contributions by themselves and represents a level of cleaning that the County budget does not currently support.

Above is a picture of the pier at it's worst back in July after months of neglect. The picture was submitted to the message board at www.pierfishing.com in a thread on 'How to kill a pier' where it was downloaded and sent by a concerned citizen to the County Parks Department.  All graffiti was removed within several weeks and the benches were cleaned and restained.  Most of the damage due to vandalism has been repaired as well. It was after being told that it would be just a matter of time before everything would revert to its former state that I decided to see how long I could forestall the supposed inevitable decline. 

I had been able to keep up with the graffiti until early December when I contracted a methecillin-resistant staph infection and was off work for three weeks.  In that time the pier accumulated considerable additional graffiti which had been insufficiently removed by the SWAP crews. 

The truth is Graffiti is a crime and I don't see myself as being in the business of removing evidence of crimes :)   Nor can I address the other problems of vandalism and drunken or rowdy behavior as well ... those are conditions that are best dealt with by the County and the various law enforcement agencies. We were able to highlight the problems and did receive the following commitments:

County officials acknowledge that graffiti this year was allowed to accumulate more than in the past, but say they plan to correct that and other problems. According to Jason Stillwell, interim parks director, the Parks Department is determined to coordinate its efforts with other agencies that have jurisdiction over the pier. "We want to make sure we have all of us out there looking at this from different points of view." ... California Department of Fish and Game officials say they are investigating the mutilations.   And SB County Sheriffs Department officials said this week they plan to increase patrols of the pier"   'On the Waterfront', SB News-Press, October 13, 2006.

The best service I can provide is to narrow my focus to keeping the pier and benches clean of guano and picking up trash including fish line and hooks.  I guess I'll just leave it up to the community to decide just how much 'people guano' they are willing to put up with and I'll take care of the 'bird guano'.

Speaking of which ...

Trash cans don't get used either if they are covered in guano ... no one wants to get their hands and clothes dirty.  So the trash is deposited in the opening but not forced down so the lid will close.  The result is that seagulls and raccoons pull the exposed trash out and scatter it down the pier and in the parking lots.  Any food stuff or discarded fish parts get eaten and thus adds to the 'guano bank'.

Noticed the anglers at the end are beginning to use mussel for bait ... finding 5-10#'s of mussel each morning left over from the night before and not disposed of properly.  Perhaps if there was a place to store it overnight it would be used the next day ... a wire basket suspended by chain to the same height as mussel on the pilings?  Discreet sign indicating 'mussel recycling' next to the fish line recycle bins and additional text addressing 'trash' on pier?

January 9th, 2007:     Much better!  Spending extra time on benches and it is showing.  Glad I shucked the observe and report role ... I am not a pier cop.  I'm just the guy who keeps the pier and east parking lot clean.

Remembering a dream fragment from last night ... a voice (M?/F?) warmly telling me that 'it will all be taken care very soon' or words to that effect.  On wakening it seemed to be about the County allowing me to overnight here as a Camp Host ... but now I'm not so sure.  True I was told the other day a decision might be made in March.

But I have been having reservations about actually staying in the ranger's compound because it is too shady for the solar panels and possibly too many trees for good cell phone and satellite reception.  Plus that area is bit crowded making it difficult to come and go.  Not to mention the reduction in privacy.  So some negatives.

But, in the dream,  I remember feeling very positive and satisfied so it couldn't be just about that.  Actually it felt more like it applied to my overall life and lifestyle ... as if things were coming together.

January 13th, 2007:


More graffiti over last couple of days ... prior tagging insufficiently removed and last night GP came back.  One whole wall in the men's mid-pier bathroom is a graphic titled Goleta Projects Gang with the plea 'Free Hozer and Frog!'  and the sentiment 'Rest in Peace!!!PeeWee' ...  wonder what that's all about?

Been trying to get a back rail replaced on the raised disabled fishing platform across from the bathrooms on the pier. It's a piece of 1x4 used to frame the platform to keep their gear from falling overboard.  Reported it several times and was told a work order would be submitted.

This gentleman, I've been told, drives his scooter on surface streets from a retirement home over a half mile from the pier.  One day I watched him struggle with his disability ... likely a stroke victim ... took about 10 minutes to get off the scooter, grab his gear and prop himself against the railing.  He usually sets up at the platform with the missing backrail but that day it and the metal sheathing below it were covered in crushed mussels and seaweed making for treacherous footing.

January 14th, 2007:      Light guano and little trash.  Through early.  Temps below freezing last two nights ... only one frozen pipe so far and it thawed almost immediately. Noticing less guano lately ... perhaps because the Harris Hawks and Peregrine Falcons have been targeting birds on the pier?  The pigeons were on deck this morning and have been sticking tight to the rails even as you walk by.  That's a pretty good sign that hawks are in the vicinity. 

Today is Ranger Dave's 50th birthday party.  He invited me several months ago which made me feel pretty good since he is somewhat taciturn by nature and I've only known him for 5 years or so.  I had to take this shot with the telephoto but it does show him with a rare smile on his face ... even if the corners of the mouth turn down a bit.

Dave works just on the weekends and holidays but still seems to be at the center of things here.  Runs the SWAP (Sheriffs Work Alternative Program) crew who are people working off their court ordered fines and also shuttles boats back and forth from the hoist.

January 15th, 2007:     Again below freezing but today there was a bit of a breeze ... good thing the benches didn't need much attention  as my hands were fully chilled  by mid-pier. Walking off the pier I was sickened by the smell of sewage with a peculiar gassy smell that seemed to take my breath away. My heart was pounding and I was feeling light headed. I noticed a waste disposal truck at the foot of the pier. By the time I got back to my motorhome in the parking lot the air and my head had cleared. 

January 16th, 2007:     Bitter cold again with a slight breeze.  Very little guano again ... is it too cold for birds to roost on the pier or is something else going on?

January 17th, 2007:     Still cold but above freezing.  Again minimal guano ... professor thinks  its related to access to restaurant's dumpster .  Could be as I haven't seen the lid open the past few days and the birds haven't been flocking there.

January 19th, 2007:     Back in October I found a wallet on the pier.  Although it appeared to have already been riffled through I discovered $75 and a medical ID card in the lining. I turned it in to the Sheriffs Lost and Found department and was told to check back in 90 days to see if it was claimed.  It hadn't been and this morning I picked up the $75.  Feels much better this way than if I had just kept the money in the first place without making an effort to find the owner.

January 20th, 2007:
Pointed out a loose dolphin (3 pilings lashed together to brace pier) to park staff.  Also discussed installation of fish line recycling boxes donated by United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC).  Will pick up handcart and box Monday to walk pier and measure for placement. 

Still not much guano ... noticed seagulls on shore east of slough entrance for past few days.  Maybe they are taking advantage of the isolation provided by the higher tides preventing unleashed dogs from reaching them.  Advised park of problem and suggested birds might roost elsewhere if they were safe from dogs and people. Should talk with Betsy Cramer, www.pelicanlife.org to see if she has any suggestions.

January 21st, 2007:     Snaggers are back after reports of a school of mixed size (12" - 24") corbina in the shallows yesterday.  Estimated 30 - 40 fish. Snaggers showed up yesterday afternoon and left strands of kelp all over the pier again. 

What a disappointment that Ken and UPSAC couldn't get the DFG to accept an anti-snagging ordinance ...  they worked so hard to make the case.  Anglers at Goleta were the first to bring the problem to UPSAC's attention when the local resident corbina population was decimated by a crew of 5 -7 snaggers who worked the pier every morning and evening until the corbina were gone.  In the past such crews were thought to be selling their catch (illegally) within the local community.

The unique thing about corbina here is that they were not line shy and would freely take bait unlike corbina at more remote shoreline locations. Below is a picture of a former local and myself holding several of her bait-caught corbinas several years ago before the advent of mass snagging.

Since those corbina weren't  skittish almost anyone had a chance ... but with the snaggers locking down whole sections of railing and sight-targeting the fish no one else could get access.  It created some resentment among the locals .  When the corbina were fished out the snaggers remained and began targeting other fish as Ken mentioned in his post. 

Eventually they spawned imitators who snagged at night.  Since targeting fish by sight is impossible at night they were just tossing out and dragging their treble hook lines across the bottom and taking whatever they got.  In the process an inordinate amount of kelp and loose weed is brought up and left to rot on the pier. I spend a lot of time removing it because it is very slippery and could lead to a serious fall. 

Spoke with some young anglers this morning about leaving crushed mussel on decks and suggested they put down newspaper first so that all the broken shells can be picked up when they are through.*

* Received a complaint today (1-22-07) about the young anglers I talked with yesterday.  Apparently on Saturday they had strung a rope from one of the benches to the railing and were trying out their 'high wire act' as well as racing their bikes on the pier..  They have been warned before... will report latest incident to rangers. 

Also learned of another group of young men (in their 20's) who go through an excessive amount of mussels which they use to chum.  They prepare the chum by spreading the mussels out on the pier and stomping on them and then kicking the crushed chum into the water. They re-chum every half hour or so after yanking another hunk off the pilings. This leaves a considerable mess on the pier of crushed shells and meat which they don't cleanup.

January 22nd, 2007:     Last night I found this:

This is the first time I've thought seriously about the idea of home, what it means to chose a place on earth and live there, to be a member of the community whose boundaries extend beyond the human enclave.  I wonder what it would mean if each person, at some point in life, set aside a time to become thoroughly engaged with a part of the home community:  a backyard, a woodlot, a pond, a stretch of river, a hillside, a farrm, a park, a creek,, a county, a butte, a marsh, a length of seacoast, a ridge, an estuary, a cactus forest, an island.

How would that affect the way each person views herself or himself in relationship to the natural surroundings, or to the earth as a whole? 

Richard Nelson, The Island Within

January 26th, 2007:  Heard what I thought was a hawk today and noticed the seagulls and pigeons lifting off the rooftops near the dumpster. Turns out it is a recently installed deterrent device mounted on the restaurant's roof programmed with recorded bird calls that are activated periodically.

From the device's placement I suspect the intended target population are the cormorants who have taken to roosting in the big eucalyptus in the restaurant parking lot.  The amount of guano produced by just one of those birds is incredible ... more than enough to cover most small imports. 

There are signs posted all around the tree warning people of the consequences of parking in the nearby spots  ... as if the guano-encrusted parking spaces weren't warning enough. I watched a motorcyclist get off his bike, bend down to read the signs and then look up just in time to avoid a descending curtain of cormorant whitewash.

January 27th, 2007: 

The first seriously inclement weather we have had for some months ... needless to say the benches did not require much attention this morning. The birds were clustered on the deck at the foot of the pier while the seagulls stood guard on the railings.  Did not see any hawks. 

In past years I would have stayed at home in Carpinteria on a day like this but now that I live full-time in an RV I can just hole up in the parking lot at the beach and enjoy the view. Such a simple joy to have all the amenities of a stick house and yet be able to vary the location at will. 

Possibly this is the only way I could have remained in Santa Barbara county following retirement.  What makes full-timing possible here is the County's Safe Parking Program which allows permitees to overnight, without charge, in a variety of locations ... primarily churches and non-profit agencies. 

The only requirements are that each vehicle must be licensed and registered and each site is limited to a maximum of 5 permitees. Currently over 200 vehicles per night are housed off the streets. Not a complete solution to the overall 'homeless' situation but a definite alternative for singles and couples spending most of their limited incomes on rental housing. 

In my case the RV replaces a former 1100 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath residence which is now more appropriately occupied by a young family with several children. I do miss the backyard and gardens though ... 

Here's a little something for a rainy day.  It's from a 9th century Irish monk living in exile on the edge of  a lake with his sole companion, Pangur Ban the cat.

I and Pangur Ban my cat, 'Tis a like task we are at,
Hunting mice is his delight, Hunting words I sit all night
'Tis a merry thing to see, At our tasks how glad are we
When at home we sit and find, Entertainment to our mind.
'Gainst the wall he sets his eye, Full and fierce and sharp and sly,
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I, All my little wisdom try.
So in peace our task we ply: Pangur Ban my cat and I
In our arts and in our bliss, I have mine and he has his.

January 30th, 2007:  Reported damage to pier railing (2x4 carved nearly in half) and exploded fireworks on pier. Later discovered a large quantity of unexploded fireworks discarded on the beach west of pier. Police were called ((Case #07-1608) and retrieved the fireworks.   Later spoke with a department supervisor and discussed some problems I had with the contact including an apparent communication difficulty with the dispatcher. 

This morning was a good example. The dispatcher asked if I would wait for the officers and I agreed telling her that I was with the fireworks on the beach 100 feet west of the pier.  45 minutes later I noticed a patrol car enter the park and turn right after the bridge instead of towards the pier. I called the dispatcher back and got it straightened out. 

A minor error agreed but still cause for concern.  Several years ago one of their dispatchers left me stranded when she apparently failed to tell the officers that the mutilated fish, the associated fireworks, the perpetrators and the complaining witness (me)) were all ON THE PIER ... 

I watched in disbelief as they drove through the park and spoke briefly with some of the regulars in the east lot and then drove out again. Luckily the situation resolved itself without their attention. Later I discovered that the officers had asked the guys in the lot if they knew "anything about illegal fireworks on the pier?" ... which, of course, they didn't.

The supervisor was personally familiar with another situation last Fall when they had to be called to the pier twice in one evening because of gang fights.  And yet when I called the next day for the incident report I was told none was written because no one was willing to file charges. 

When I tried to do a follow-up contact with the gang unit I was actively discouraged and refused a direct number. My supposedly transferred call ended back at the dispatcher and the next day no one seemed to have a number for the 'gang unit'. 

The overall impression I got was that there was a distinct unwillingness to expend any resources when there was little chance of a successful conviction.  But if the problems are not at least officially recorded then there is even less chance of any agency finding the funds to address them. 

BTW: After waiting around for well over an hour this morning, being the cooperative witness that I am, I couldn't help but feel a bit offended when the responding officer told me he 'needed to see some ID' like I was being pulled over at a traffic stop. 

I handed him my driver's license which he noted had only a post office box and not my physical address so that led to an extended discussion of where I actually lived ... always a difficult question for someone who lives full-time in an RV. 

Thinking it was a question of reaching me as a witness I offered him my daytime phone number. He wrote it down but then asked for my social security number. I couldn't see any legal reason why he would need it and so objected. He admitted he didn't need it to complete the report but it was a question he was supposed to ask. He said he had no idea why it was needed or to what purpose it would be put.  By then I was beginning to feel like I was under investigation.  Kind of discouraging. 

It reminded me of a story told by a regular here of the only time he called the authorities.  In that case it was to report a fire smoldering in a schoolyard. The dispatcher asked him for so much much personal ID that he finally hung up in disgust and has never called to report anything again. An overreaction to be sure but not all that uncommon. 

Was told that the third bench in this section of the pier had been removed as it interfered with the use of the fish cleaning station.  Perhaps it could be installed on another section of the pier?

Questions or comments? ... email  Pierhead

Copyright © 2007 by Boyd Grant.  All Rights Reserved