~  Pierheads's ~
Goleta Pier Log

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

Previous Month * Original Fishing Site * Photo Essays * Fishing Logs * Statistics * Model  Pier Demonstration Project
  Volunteer Time:
 2006 (total):    103 days, 169 hours
 2007 (to date):  124 days, 174.50 hours

  May 3rd, 2007: 

Found a fantastic virtual tour of Goleta Beach and the Pier. Camera work courtesy of John Dickson at SantaBarbara.com where you can find his tours of other area beaches.

May 6th, 2007:

Spotted this kelp harvester this morning working his way down the reef on the westside of the pier. The kelp is less than 100 feet from the pier. Spoke with the vessel's Captain and reminded him of the posted 200 foot restriction. 

He claimed he was unaware of any restrictions. Called the Harbor Patrol to see who had jurisdiction and was told the local Department of Fish and Game warden, Jason Krause, was the one to advise of the violation. Left word on the warden's cell phone and received a return message indicating the vessel's owner would be spoken to.

The issue is not only one of who to report violations to after the fact ... the real problem is preventing such intrusions in the first place. The kelp canopy and reef on the westside of the pier provides habitat for more than 45 species of fish. 

Because of the protective cover afforded by the canopy and the rocks to which it is anchored such reefs become a major source of replenishment for many marine species which grow to adult size within their confines before moving out to deeper waters.

The existing signs are on the eastside of the pier where they can not be seen by vessels approaching the reef ... perhaps signs are needed on the west side as well since that is where the major violations occur. In the past we have had commercial lobster divers and commercial live rockfish fisherman set up in the reef as well until warned away by local pier anglers. 

May 9th, 2007:

Next Monday (May 14) is the final date for public comment on Santa Barbara County Parks Department's draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Goleta Beach Long-term Protection project. 

According to the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) "This EIR analyzes the environmental impacts of two competing shoreline protection projects designed to minimize future wave-caused erosion of Goleta Beach County Park."

The two options are referred to respectively as Beach Stabilization and Managed Retreat.  Perhaps the best description of these two options I could find on the web is in this County Parks document

Both options impact the pier but only the first does so directly and immediately ... it calls for a 20 by 500 foot rectangle of closely spaced pilings to be constructed parallel to the east side of the pier beginning at the foot and extending out almost to mid-pier bathrooms.

The desired result would be to slow the predominantly eastward flowing currents causing the suspended sand to drop out and pile up underneath and to the sides of the pier thus advancing the shoreline seaward by 200 feet. The new shoreline would be under the 1st fishing ell.

The document seems to imply that the most effective placement of those new pilings can not be determined in advance but only after a period of monitoring: "During this adjustment period, the timber piles would be structurally supported by an adjustable bracing system. 

Following the adjustment period, a wooden deck would be built over the piles as an extension/widening of the eastern side of the existing Pier".

No doubt about it ... what is being proposed here is a permanent widening of the first 500 feet of the pier from the present 15 feet to 35 feet. This will add an additional 10,000 square feet of deck space. The question is ... will this additional area stimulate a demand for development? 

And if it is developed: who would benefit ... the community at large or a few private commercial interests? Stay tuned.

May 11th, 2007:  In today's news we read that the concentration of domoic acid in algae off the local coastline has reached the highest levels ever detected in California according to State health officials. 
The acid accumulates in shellfish and other filter feeders like baitfish resulting in a form of toxic poisoning which can be fatal to birds and mammals. 

Eating contaminated seafood can lead to severe gastric distress and in extreme cases there can be breathing difficulty, confusion and coma. For these reasons there are signs in several locations at Goleta alerting the public.

One caution not mentioned is an advisory not to leave shellfish laying around where birds and other animals can get to them. 

Normally this is not a concern but as has been noted previously Goleta has had a real problem with anglers taking more mussel than they can use. The unused mussel is discarded on the pier where it gets trampled by pedestrians breaking the shell and exposing the contaminated mussel meat to local wildlife.

It has always puzzled me why so much mussel is harvested when the legal limit of 10 pounds can easily supply all of the anglers on the pier on any given day. Just recently that question was answered for me by a young angler who explained that he breaks apart the mussel clumps he gets in order to find the small crabs that hide there. These crabs are the preferred bait of choice for some perch anglers.

Section 29.05. General of the California Marine Sportfishing Regulations states that
" ... no worms may be taken in any mussel bed, unless taken incidental to the harvesting of mussels."  Although crabs are not specifically mentioned the intent of this section is to prevent the unwarranted destruction of mussel colonies by those not intending to use all of the mussels themselves. 

What motivates that young man and many others is the cultivation of a reputation as a 'top gun' angler. Unfortunately in their quest for the most and biggest fish they sometimes lose perspective, get greedy and skirt the regulations. This attitude that one's skill at fishing is measured by the size of the catch has been fostered unfortunately by the recreational fishing industry and party boats in particular.

Those boats often 'guarantee' quality catches by providing an inexperienced angler with techniques, baits and locations that they have not yet discovered on their own ... a hired guide to make up for your own lack of skill. 

But there is more to being a successful angler than just bringing home the biggest fish ... there is also the responsibility of being aware of and mitigating your impact on the environment. 

Catch and release is one way of expressing that awareness. Making and using bait responsibly is another.

May 12th, 2007: 

This morning I again found the pier littered with discarded fishing line, mussels and kelp. At the end of the pier there were 20 beer bottles scattered all over and the railing held numerous pieces of unused cut bait. 

I discussed the problem with the Head Ranger and received permission to make and install some simple temporary signs. The one on the left is the first design.

Later while walking over to the Park Office to show off my handiwork I noticed a length of monofilament fishing line in the parking lot at the foot of the pier. Just as I reached down to pick it up a passing car drove over it and it got snagged. 

Suddenly I felt the line slipping through my fingers as the car pulled away ... and then an unnoticed hook sank into my middle finger. Fortunately the driver noticed me running alongside his car yelling and gesturing frantically.

Now I know for real what a snagged bird feels like.

May 14th, 2007:   Another confrontation in the library parking lot behind the Christian Science Church on Fairview. This time it was by an almost bald angry white male in his early 40's. 

Noticing him lurking around my vehicle I opened the door and asked  if I could help. He responded by saying I could help him by "getting out of the parking lot now".

I asked him who he was and he said he was with the church but he refused to give me his name or position. 

Taken aback by his outburst and noticing that he was twitching around the corners of his eyes and lips I became concerned for my safety.

I tried to calm him down by offering to answer any questions he had since he was obviously upset at my presence. He refused to be reasonable and began threatening to call the police. I offered him the use of my cellphone.  His response was to again order me out of the lot followed up by a direct threat that he "better not ever see me in the lot again".  With that I called 911 for police assistance. 

Two squad cars were dispatched and after talking with the officers it was confirmed that as long as I was 'using the lot during library business hours' I was permitted to be there.

Expressing my concern over the gentleman's threat one officer told me not to worry and just forget about it.  He wasn't willing to give me the man's name or his position but did state that he was 'with the Church'.

Still fearful for my safety after they left I called the church and spoke with an official (warder?) who agreed to meet with me to discuss the incident.  He subsequently explained that there had been "problems with drugs and people overnighting in the lot". 

Initially he said it would be better if I parked in the City School's parking lot across the street which was what the first gentleman had suggested indicating perhaps that this was 'official church policy'. When I asked him why I was being singled out when I was not violating any laws he relented saying that I would probably be subject to the same treatment there as well.

Apparently it has to do with with the fact that I drive an RV and am thus stereotyped as a vagrant, transient or homeless person and treated with fear and prejudice. I gave the official my business card explaining that I would be using the lot on a frequent basis and asked for a letter from the church attesting to my right to be there. 

Perhaps if I posted it in the window of my RV while I am parked there it would help to reduce these sorts of confrontations. He agreed to advise the 'appropriate church officials' of the incident and my concerns. 

But he also refused to identify the individual who accosted me or his position with the church but later I did see the man sitting with the congregation. 

Contrast the attitude of this church with that of Goleta's Christ Lutheran which, like many other churches in the area, participates in the County's Safe Parking program by offering space for up to five RV'ers a night and unlimited daytime parking.

We get email:  After posting the above I received the following email (edited): 

"I think you were talking about the same guy who verbally attacked us the first time we parked there to go to the library. We didn't know any better, and I drove in via the exit. Wow! Did I get a chewing out! I was really polite to this guy, but noticed that he seemed to revel in his (I thought) position of self appointed watchdog for the property.  It's funny, but I had the feeling that this person was somebody that got picked on a lot when he was a kid.  Oh, well...  whatever.  It took me some time before I would go back to parking in that lot again." 

Has anybody else had a negative experience with this bully, the police or other church members at this location? Please email me with details and I will forward all comments to the church.

Since I have yet to receive an apology or other follow up contact from the church I am inclined to believe that the church believes using this ruffian to intimidate selected library patrons is acceptable. 

May 16th, 2007:  In March the county hosed off the pier and then we had several days of hard rains as well.  The result was that the railings were finally clean. Now was the time to test whether my hypothesis was correct:

I had noticed that when I kept the benches spotless the birds were less likely to deposit guano on them. What used to take an me an hour or more per day now takes maybe five minutes of actual work as I walk the pier every morning. 

It may be premature to declare a similar success with the pier railings but the truth is:

This morning I was able to remove the past 24 hour's accumulation of guano from all  benches, all trash cans and all 3000' of railing in less than 30 minutes! 

I've also observed that far fewer birds are perching on the railings during the day.

The entire situation has been improving steadily since January.

I really want to believe that the problem  was solved as easily as this but I am keeping an open mind ... perhaps it's just a seasonal occurrence. If so though it's a fairly long season ... I first noticed the bench improvement back in January.

May 21st, 2007:  Here is the list of County management objectives for the Park:

Notice that all four of the items marked 'High Priority' have to do with our impacts on local wildlife? 

Now compare those laudable objectives with the actual County provided reality: 
One (1) 'Do Not Feed the Birds" sign hidden in the east parking lot behind the dumpsters (see the check mark). 

NOAA has posted one of their own signs on the pier and there are several references to bird feeding on other posted printed material.  But certainly nothing like a 'park wide high priority' approach. (Having said that I admit I haven't visited the west end of the park recently.) 

Every day dogs run free on the beach and carload after carload of 'compulsive bird feeders' use the east lot with impunity ... 

Not complaining really ... just wondering what the term 'In Progress' means.

May 28th, 2007:

Memorial Day


Tribe of Levi


Depression and the Pure of Heart

Found this poignant veteran's memorial in the sand at the end of the east parking lot this morning. Arranged around its perimeter were two Bibles and a dictionary - all opened with various passages underlined or otherwise marked.

I won't presume to interpret the significance of those passages to the one who left them there for us but the themes of military service, homelessness, depression and selection by God for a special status among mankind caught my eye.

Aftereffects of another war and another time perhaps but still a very contemporary statement. 

May 29th, 2007:

When I got to the pier this morning I found a pool of blood outside the men's restroom and a trail of drops leading inside to a bloodied urinal. Later I was told by someone who stayed late last night that the sheriffs had come out on the pier around 10pm or so spending time searching with flaslights the area between the bathroom and the foot of the pier where there was another small pool of blood. 

This, combined with two stabbings Sunday night in downtown Goleta and Ellwood, is a cause for concern. I have asked the Park to contact the sheriffs to see if an incident report and details are available. 

Also of concern is that fact that racially taunting grafitti was left up in this bathroom over the holiday weekend even though I requested that it be removed on Friday and Sunday.  I made another request this morning.

[Later]  This evening I spoke with a friend of mine who was the last person to leave the pier after the arrival of the police last night. He confirmed that he saw a large amount of blood in the urinal and was asked by the officers if he had heard or seen any commotion or a knive being discarded. 


On a more positive note -
Kudos for the Pier posted to pierfishing.com: (edited)

"The wife and I drove up from Los Angeles to fish Goleta pier Thursday & Saturday, started fishing both days just after 5 am.  Of the piers we've fished, Goleta is by far one of the cleanest and friendliest.  We had a great time in Goleta, largely owing to the friendly and helpful attitude of those who fish there."

Questions or comments? ... email  Pierhead

Copyright © 2007 by Boyd Grant.  All Rights Reserved