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El Niño storm protection project needs Coastal Commission approval for reinforcment

Flickr member: Andy Blackledge

Stormy conditions are changing the course of action of an emergency project on the Central Coast.

Construction of a massive sand berm to prevent flood damage along the popular Goleta Beach Park began at the start of the month, but recent high tides set crews back to the beginning stages.

Over the past several days, they were able to rebuild much of the sand berm taken away by the large swell.

Jill Van Wie is Capital Projects Manager for the county's parks division and said they made significant progress on the east end of the berm, but persisting ocean conditions halted efforts of the west portion of the wall.

"The berm is really doing its job, but we really will need, I think, stronger protections over this El Niño season. This is just a taste, I think, of what we're going to be seeing," said Van Wie.

She said they plan to meet with the Coastal Commission in the coming days to discuss the possibility of using enormous sand bags to stabilize the berm.

Last month, the Coastal Commission approved an emergency permit to build the half-mile long sand wall.