California Coastal Commission Workshop to Focus on Hollister Ranch Access Plan | Local News
A draft plan to provide phased and managed access to the pristine beaches of Hollister Ranch outlines some of the milestones and costs of the program, which will be the subject of a California Coast Commission workshop on October 14.
The workshop will provide an opportunity for commissioners and the public to voice their ideas, concerns, comments and questions regarding the proposed coastal access program, according to staff.
The decades-long access conflict – fought at the administrative, legislative and legal levels – centers on 8½ miles of coastline in Hollister Ranch, a 14,400-acre residential subdivision with 136 plots and a working cattle ranch to the west. from Gaviota State Park.
Over the years, the Hollister Ranch Owners Association spearheaded efforts to keep beaches private.
The state released a concept proposal in June and the draft plan in September for the Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program (HRCAP). The plan spells out limited public access to six beaches – Agua Caliente, Alegria, Sacate, Drake’s, Bulito and San Augustin, some of the state’s most famous surf spots.
“One of the most difficult aspects of providing public access to beaches along the ranch coast is to get people safely through private ranch ownership and active cattle operations and to through the level crossings to the beaches “, indicates the plan. “Once at the beach, it is relatively easy to provide a variety of different experiences for visitors.
The plan provided for shuttle, private vehicle, trail and bicycle access for members of the public as well as cultural access from Chumash.
“Some of HRCAP’s other big challenges are how to provide safe and equitable public access, minimize impacts on high-quality coastal resources and ensure respect for private property rights,” according to the plan.
The access plan proposed a management entity yet to be determined, identified as a partner organization or a concessionaire who would be appointed to implement the program.
According to the plan, the access program would be implemented in three parts: a preparation phase, a pilot phase and a program implementation phase.
“It is important to note that before any aspect of the HRCAP can be implemented, the property rights necessary for public access through private property, including inland beach areas, must be negotiated and acquired. from privately owned HROA and / or Hollister Ranch. owners, and possibly the Union Pacific Railroad, ”the plan read. “Negotiating home ownership rights is a complex process, which can require significant funding and can take years. “
With a deadline of April 2022 set by Assembly bill 1680, the state will work with landowners to establish temporary public access to beaches while working to finalize other details.
Access plans provide for the creation of toilets, the addition of garbage cans and recycling bins, the establishment of emergency communications, the improvement of roads and the development of trails, parking lots and an area. gathering.
The pilot phase of the access program, which should run over two years, would be limited to 100 people per day on the beaches.
The 2021 state budget included a $ 10 million appropriation to support public access to Hollister Ranch, with most of that funding to be used during the readiness phase.
In addition, the State Coastal Conservatory has approximately $ 300,000 in payments for the Hollister Ranch Fee-in-lieu program, and Santa Barbara County has an additional $ 1 million in Fee-in-lieu to fund the initial costs of implementing a program. public access.
The plan also recommends the creation of an advisory committee made up of representatives from state agencies, Santa Barbara County, the Hollister Ranch Owners Association, the Chumash community, and groups focused on public access to justice. environmental and environmental education.
Operation and maintenance of the access plan would cost approximately $ 500,000, with the actual budget depending on the use of composting toilets or portable toilets.
Capital costs would range from $ 7 million to $ 12 million for the staging area, beach parking, and upgrades to accommodate shuttles, composting toilets, and the installation of a trail. However, the number does not include the costs of acquiring land.
The virtual workshop is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on October 14 and will include presentations from staff from the four state agencies – the California Coastal Commission, the State Coastal Conservancy, the State Lands Commission and State parks – involved in the access plan.
To comment during the California Coastal Commission Virtual Workshop, stakeholders must register by clicking the button “Speaker request button” no later than 8:30 am October 14. Written comments can be emailed to [email protected]. For more information and a copy of the draft plan, go to agenda by clicking here.