Posted by on December 16, 2004 at 10:49:08:
SANTA BARBARA against the Arco plan.
The oil company wants to topple the concrete columns off Ellwood, dump big rocks on top of the underwater debris, and erect four concrete pilings, or poles, with platforms for birds to roost.
The platforms would stand 40 feet above the water, twice as high as the junk that's there now.
Backed by the state Department of Fish and Game and state Lands Commission, Arco argued the new roosting platforms would attract colonies of seabirds. Fish and Game said the remnants of the pier, which have been dubbed "Bird Island," are the only nighttime safe haven for the endangered California brown pelican along a 75-mile stretch of coast.
Local governments, however, are more concerned about precedent than plumage.
"This should not become a precedent-setting action," said Luis Perez, the county energy specialist who drafted the county's letter opposing Arco's request. "It really sends the wrong message."
"It becomes a reward for not doing your abandonment properly at the end of the life of the project."
The state Lands Commission considers the proposal at its meeting in Long Beach next month. The Goleta City Council and county board are sending letters to the agency urging a "no" vote.
The city of Goleta letter said the new platforms would "substantially detract from the quality of recreational experience" by visitors to Ellwood Mesa, a scenic blufftop property that the community is trying to preserve.
In their letter, county supervisors reminded commissioners that Santa Barbara County historically has required oil companies to remove all structures offshore once a project is abandoned.
"If approved, Arco's current proposal would be an exception to this long-held standard," the letter said.
Additionally, the city and county letters said, there is no evidence that the pelicans are using the old pier at night, and no way of knowing if any birds will return to nest on the new platforms after the old pier is demolished.
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