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Save Haskell's Beach
Santa Barbara County
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A serious methane gas leak and discovery of additional Chumash artifacts has held up development of the proposed Santa Barbara Club Resort & Spa at Haskell's Beach. The Coastal Development Permit for the project will have to be revised in order to accommodate changes in the development plan.
Haskell's Beach is located on the south side of U.S. Highway 101 and the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks, approximately 1-mile west of Winchester Canyon Road. The site is bounded on the east by Bell Creek. The western boundary is defined by a row of trees bordering an adjacent rural parcel. Nature has created a natural amphitheater at Haskell's Beach. Bisected by Tecolote Creek, the 73 acre site is largely defined by it's gently sloping central valley which extends from the top of the property to the sea. Two marine terraces rising nearly 100 feet flank the valley. Steep cliffs up to 95 feet with slopes up to 100% define much of the southern boundary line.
Haskell's Beach also features a brackish marsh, a low-coastal dune system, and a Monarch butterfly roost, which has recently been destroyed by developers. Several local, state and federally listed, protected or endangered species have been observed onsite, and in areas within the vicinity of the site. These include the Monarch Butterfly, the Southwestern Pond Turtle, the California Red-Legged Frog, the Coast Horned Lizard, the Tidewater Goby, the Greenbacked Heron, the Western Snowy Plover, and the white-tailed Kite.
The site has been used for a variety of purposes, including a prominent Native American Chumash village, kelp processing, crude oil storage, oil extraction, agriculture and recreation.
In 1969 Wallover Corporation purchased the site as part of a 1143 acre holding in Tecolote Canyon. In 1975 a proposal to build 153 clustered town houses on the site was denied by the County of Santa Barbara based on inconsistencies with the County's proposed Local Coastal Plan (LCP). In 1976, the California Coastal Commission recommended that Haskell's Beach be purchased for public recreation, and zoned 1-A. Between 1977 and 1979 the State legislature appropriated $2.3 million dollars to be used by the California Department of Parks and Recreation to acquire a portion of the site for recreational purposes. The proposed purchase was abandoned in 1980 due to the owner's unwillingness to sell at the appraised value.
In 1983, Wallover Inc. and the Hyatt Corporation jointly filed an application with the County for a preliminary Development Plan and a rezone seeking approval of a 524 room destination resort. Despite the fact that the County Planning Commission denied the project in October of 1984, the request was heard on appeal and approved by the County Board of Supervisors in May of 1985. In July of 1985, the County resubmitted the Local Coastal Plan to the California Coastal Commission for certification. In its resubmittal, the County proposed redesignating Haskell's beach 'Visitor Serving Commercial' and inclusion of the site into the Goleta urban planning area.
For as long as anyone can remember, Haskell's Beach has been seen as a place where one could get away from it all, away from cars, away from traffic, away from civilization. It was a place where a lone hiker or independent surfer could find solitude, a sense of spirituality and peace. Now that is threatened by a 400 dollar a night luxury resort that has been described in County documents as "marginally economically feasible". (See Hyatt Resort and Hotel 86-DP-46 Final Development Plan/Findings and Statement of Overriding Considerations pg. 35.)
Art Florez, general manager of Pacifica Suites in Goleta, commenting on SBCR&Spa's high priced rooms/ slated to rent for $300 to $400 dollars a night, stated, "'That's going to be almost impossible' to rent the rooms. The resort will have little, if any impact on rivals." Newspress/ December 12, 1997.
Isolated, flanked by two oil facilities, one of which creates odors akin to rotten eggs, fronted by cold water, and plagued by globs of tar resulting from oil seepage, it is a wonder that anyone would want to build a resort on this site. While cold water and tar does little to deter surfers, will visitors to Santa Barbara really be interested in paying hundreds of dollars a night to sleep near an oil pier whose concrete pylons stand in 55 degree water?
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