Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shoreline steps closed again


The Shoreline Park steps were closed once again on Thursday, as high surf conditions destabilized the landslide-stricken bluffs overlooking the coast.
The City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department have advised beachgoers to avoid the surrounding area as a result of the ensuing safety hazards, until further notice. Park officials have reported that upper areas of the bluff are collapsing onto the coast and fear recent tremulous ocean activity may threaten future access to the beach.

“Active earth movement poses a safety hazard on the bluff top and beach where large blocks of landslide material can rapidly and unpredictably fall,” according to the advisory. “Additional erosion at the base of the landslide could contribute to further movement.”
The steps were first closed January 25 of this year after a relentless series of rainstorms and gusty winds saturated the erosion-prone cliffs, shutting down the access point for nearly three months.
“This is the second time that we’ve had to close the steps this year,” said Jill Zachary, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director. “In the last week with the high surf conditions, the tide has become really high… its crashing against the cliffs has undermined the debris at the bottom the bluff.”
Parks Division staff is currently monitoring the condition of the slide daily and the steps will remain closed to the public until further notice.
“The movement [of the landslide] has been more significant than in recent months,” Zachary said. “From a public safety standpoint, we are closing the steps until it appears that the earth movement has slowed down dramatically.”
Although the status of the previous slide has not changed, Park officials have declared it possible for other debris within the slide’s vicinity to crash onto the beach within the next few days.
With regard to the status of the beach area surrounding the Shoreline Park steps, Zachary advised local sun soakers to enjoy other parts of the Santa Barbara coastline for the time being.
“We are recommending that all people avoid the area, but we can’t fence off the beach,” Zachary said. “We’ve posted signs at all of our other beach entrances that shoreline is closed and we are encouraging people to exercise caution.”
Despite the landslide’s threat to the surrounding beach area, Zachary said the current status of the slide does not pose any imminent threat to the park itself.
“At this moment right, the slide has not expanded or gone deeper into the park. The park is fine,” Zachary said.

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