~ Pierheads's ~
Goleta Pier Log
103 days, 169 hours
2007 (to date): 124 days,
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.
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.
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)
EIR analyzes the environmental impacts of two competing shoreline protection
projects designed to minimize future wave-caused erosion of Goleta Beach
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
Both options impact the pier but only the first does so directly
... 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
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.
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
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.
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
Now I know for real what a snagged bird feels like.
14th, 2007: Another
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Every day dogs run free on the beach and
carload after carload of 'compulsive bird feeders' use the east lot with
Not complaining really ... just wondering
what the term 'In Progress' means.
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.
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
[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
On a more positive note -
Kudos for the Pier posted to pierfishing.com:
"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."