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Dredging starts next week as $2-million in storm repairs are now underway at the Santa Barbara waterfront

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Even before the rain storms that hit last week, it was the January 5th weather system and ocean surges that exploded into the Santa Barbara harbor and coastline to start a series of emergency issues.

Santa Barbara Waterfront Director Mike Wiltshire spoke prior to a presentation to the Harbor Commission saying,  "we saw huge amount of structural damage,  huge amount of infrastructure damage in the Yacht club parking lot, their boat storage yard. Marineworks is a tenant of ours, they lost a lot of space and at the very end of that, our facility maintenance yard." 

The Waterfront department has made an assessment from Leadbetter Beach to East Beach.

An urgent, 400 foot rock wall project is going in after Coastal Commission and other approvals, because without it,  "we have almost no coastal defenses.  So any high tide coupled with a swell can result in rogue waves coming up over the breakwater just water moving in to places we are not used to," said Wiltshire.

He gave credit to the staff and city crews who worked day and night to clear drains and respond to the storm impacts on the harbor property. 

Across the waterfront about $2-million dollars and work is taking place, on the first estimate.

Large, specially ordered rocks are being purchased for the wall project and the ones that just came down in the storms, now coming out of debris basins, won't hold up.

Wiltshire said, "unfortunately we can't use the sandstone rock coming from Montecito.  It is just not the right kind of rock it does not lock in very well."

The Yacht Club remains closed while the underside is inspected and repaired where water, electrical and other vital lines were damaged.

It also remains vulnerable with no sand berm in place. The club's commodore said earlier this week, they were optimistic about a reopening later this month.  All events are canceled and the building is "yellow tagged" for safety reasons. Only repair crews can be on site.

On West Beach another urgent project is the dredging of the harbor entrance now jammed with sand, from the storms and direction of the waves.

Most boats can not get in or out. The dredge is coming from San Diego this week, on an emergency contract,  and it will start digging in soon.

Before the dredge arrives,  pipes will have to be connected and go under the wharf to a spot half way the beach. That's where the silt and muddy water will be discharged from the harbor.

Wiltshire said, "they are planning to dredge early next week so Monday, Tuesday night week (we're) hoping to be done and have that channel open again at least for passage by Wednesday-Thursday.  What they are essentially doing is carving  a 100-foot wide by 12-foot deep channel so all mariners can get in and out."

Stearns Wharf held up but it did take a hit and a piece even ended up in Carpinteria.

Wiltshire said, "we lost six or eight piles which may sound like a big deal but it is not too bad. The wharf is held up by has over 2000 wooden piles."

During the weather event no one was hurt and all businesses are open.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
emergency dredging
rainstorm impact
rock wall installation
sand berms
Santa Barbara
santa barbara harbor
Santa Barbara Waterfront
Santa Barbara Yacht Club

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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