Monday, December 16, 2019

Surfers' Point Phase 2 update

The Surfers Point Working Group met on October 29, 2019.

Final design of Phase 2 of the Surfers' Point Managed Shoreline Retreat project is ongoing.  The consultant team presented the latest design, with much of the discussion concerned lighting, fences, and other ammenties as well as a preliminary design for fixing the stormwater system to eliminate the problem with sand and silt clogging the filters and pumps.  The new parking lots will be paved with asphalt to eliminate erosion of silt and sand.  The runoff is to be filtered in bioswales at the bottom of the hill by the fairgrounds arena before being pumped up to the clarifier and out to the river mouth. The next step will include a coastal analysis for the beach side from the Phase 1 dune area down towards the bathrooms.

Last month, the City with assistance from BEACON applied for a $3M grant for construction.  This would cover about half the cost through a federal program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) for “Emergency Coastal Resilience Fund 2019

Due to ongoing concerns with parking layout, Surfrider submitted the following comments:

To: Surfers Point Working Group
From: Paul Jenkin, Surfrider Foundation
Date: November 27, 2019
RE: Working Group Meeting October 29, 2019

This memo is a follow up to our last Working Group meeting. During the meeting I repeated concerns regarding the parking layout that has been developed. It is important that the project takes advantage of the opportunity to optimize the quantity of parking, both for Fairgrounds operations and day use public beach access.

After reviewing the October 29 powerpoint presentation we would like to share a few comments:

First, it would be more representative of the project if the new “Shoreline Drive” parking lot was labeled the “Phase 2” lot, as it is in fact the completion of the currently existing “Phase 1” parking lot.

Second, the spaces in the future “Phase 2” overflow parking lot are counted as day use, which somewhat distorts the net gain in parking from the project.

In the table below, day use parking is distinguished from the Fairgrounds overflow parking lot. The project proposes to enlarge the Phase 1 lot to 134 spaces, slightly exceeding the original design specification for 130. However, the existing 120 Beach Parking spaces are reduced to only 54 with the new “Shoreline Drive” lot. “Surf check” spots are also reduced from 32 to 24. Although there is still a net increase in beach parking, it actually only amounts to 9 additional day use spaces.

Surfrider requests that the consultants work closely with the Fairgrounds and the rest of the Working Group to carefully consider the tradeoffs associated with the permanent large roundabout in the middle of the new parking area along Shoreline Drive. Is this necessary for day to day use, or mostly for bigger events? Could this be lined out with removable barriers for events? Alternatively, could large trucks access the Fairgrounds through the other roundabout? Is there an opportunity to increase the number of beach parking spaces here and near the other roundabout and entry kiosk?

For reference, attached in this memo are the recent powerpoint slides as well as the original design parking layout. Also included is the layout that Surfrider provided to the Working Group in November 2017 which illustrates the potential increase in day use parking.

I hope this information is helpful to the Working Group. We all have an interest in optimizing the number of parking spaces both for Fairgrounds events and daily public beach access.

Matilija Hot Springs cleared

Sign at Matilija Hot Springs summarizes the historical significance of the site

The Matilija Hot Springs lies directly downstream of Matilija Dam.  The site has a rich history dating back to the 1800's and has alternated between a privately operated resort and County owned park.  The most recent transition occurred during planning for dam removal when Ventura County re-acquired the property using a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.  The property has a history of flooding during extreme events, and dam removal is expected to greatly increase the flood risk as sediment is released back into Matilija Creek.

With planning for dam removal ongoing, the historic nature of the site has led to lengthy discussions over the fate of the existing infrastructure.  A comprehensive summary of the site was conducted in 2012,  Historical Resources Assessment Matilija Hot Springs Ventura County, CA. A complete chronology of the site begins on page 51 of this report, which includes vivid descriptions from past newspaper articles:

The gorge is a picturesque and wildly beautiful one. Its altitude is 1,000 feet above the sea and the air is delightfully bracing. The mountains rise above the nook on which the springs buildings are located some 1200 feet, rocky and precipitous” (Ventura Free Press, April 11, 1902).

Structures identified in the 2102 Historical Resources Assessment Matilija Hot Springs

Then in December 2017 the entire site was burned in the Thomas Fire.

According to the Ventura County Star, "The remnants of the historic Matilija Hot Springs resort near Ojai are set to be demolished in the next few weeks amid lingering questions over whether anything could be saved after the Thomas Fire left much of it in rubble. "

"Located northwest of Ojai, the site held one of California’s famous mineral springs resorts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The entire 9-acre property, including hot springs, a cold-water spring and the buildings, is designated as a Ventura County historic landmark. Of particular note were a post office and swimming pool dating from the early 1900s, according to a historian who surveyed the site several years before the fire. "

"Nothing will be left except a historical marker after the demolition is completed in January, said Glenn Shephard, director of the Ventura County Watershed Protection District. The agency owns the property that is expected to become a staging area for the removal of the Matilija Dam and later turned into a public recreation area. "

This demolition represents the end of an era.  With dam removal, this special site at the entrance to Matilija Canyon will eventually be returned to the public.  In the meantime, any planning for future of this area will begin with a "clean slate"...

Raymond Powers, who lived on site as caretaker, produced this video following the fire:


Matilija Hot Springs Site after County cleared the site, Feb 20, 2020


Historical Resources Assessment Matilija Hot Springs Ventura County, CA , Prepared for:
County of Ventura Watershed Protection District, November 2012
Matilija Hot Springs has Colorful History
Postcard: Matilija Hot Springs Pool
Postcard: Hanging Rock — A Trysting Place

In the news:

Remnants of Matilija Hot Springs resort being leveled, VC Star, Dec 15, 2019

On this blog:

Matilija Hot Springs Resort