~ Pierheads's ~
Goleta Pier Log
2006 (total): 103 days, 169 hours
2007 (to date): 26 days, 43 hours
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.
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.
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'.
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?
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
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.
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
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
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'
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
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
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
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.
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:
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
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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
see if she has any suggestions.
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
... 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.
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,
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?
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.
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
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
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
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
'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.
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