By J'Amy Brown   |   June 20, 2019
County Parks beach debris removal crew: (L to R) Johnny Favela, Parks Maintenance; Andrew Rex, Park Ranger; Steve Lowe, Park Ranger; Andrew Swanson, driving the "mule," Park Ranger; Troy DeBiase, Park Ranger; Doug Norton, Park Ranger (photo by Billy Mann)

Q. That wrecked boat debris, anchored for months on Hammonds Beach, disappeared on Monday. Where did it go?

A. After public “take note” shot across the bow, SB County First District Supervisor Das Williams grabbed the helm and swiftly found a crew to attack and defeat the Montecito beach marooned wreckage! Hammonds Beach is once again ship-shape – safe and silky for bare-foot-in-the-sand summer enjoyment!

Williams said as soon as he got drift of the washed-ashore vessel, he started making phone calls to various county departments asking what could be done. “I was expecting some bureaucratic response, but I got nothing like that. I found a willing crew and I got a can-do attitude from both the Sheriff Department and County Parks.”

Williams explained a short delay was created because there were reports of two boats abandoned on two different beaches. “One way or another, no matter where the boats were, either the Sheriff or Parks Departments were going to get the job done. And, they did get it done – within a week,” Williams noted.

Santa Barbara County Parks was first on deck, and it was their crew who successfully navigated the removal of the vessel debris. These guys know their ropes, as documented the on-scene photos submitted by Park’s crewmembers, Billy Mann and Andrew Rex. 

“I am happy to report as of 11 am, Monday, that all the boat debris, including the motor, have been removed from the Hammond’s Meadow beach. This was accomplished by the SB County Parks staff, under the supervision of Billy Mann, Park Operations supervisor for the South County. It required a bit of improvisation and muscle, but was accomplished safely, and with the help of a timely low tide this morning. Our staff was pleased to be part of the solution,” reported Manning Park Ranger Doug Norton

While the heavy lifting was finished, Sheriff Department Lt. Butch Arnoldi, assigned to the Montecito area, said the Sheriff’s Department had not bailed on this marooned beach debris situation. In fact, he said he was in the midst of negotiating for public-private debris removal when he learned the wreckage had been extricated. 

“The Sheriff’s department ran out of vessel removal funds in April, after some big hauls off the beach in March. But some of this new debris landed on private property so I was looking into the feasibility of a public-private partnership for removal. I was even offering to carry the plank-like hull debris off the private property myself if the property owner could make a trash bin available,” Arnoldi explained.

However, with County Park making haste of the castaway debris, Arnoldi cleared the deck and refocused his vigor towards future beached vessel removal. Recognizing the ever-growing number of boats moored off Montecito’s Butterfly Beach and the possibility of more unwanted boats landings on our shore next winter, Arnoldi applied for a $25,000 State Parks vessel disposal grant dubbed SAVE (Surrendered and Abandoned Vessel Exchange.) 

That grant, if approved, will allow not only for the removal of washed-up boat debris but also will offer haul away options to owners of unwanted vessels. “We hope they will contact us while the boat is still in the water, not washed up on the shore, where it becomes an environmental and safety hazard. The grant will allow us to take an undesired boat to a land fill and get rid of it,” Arnoldi explained. 

Last week it seemed like the only hope to rid Montecito of beached debris would be prayer to Neptune. But then, over the sand, came a full county response, and Neptune’s work was done in a day! The county’s parks cavalry, arriving on their all-terrain “mule,” nimbly navigated the washed up boat junk right off the beach and onto a landfill-destine-dumpster, while the proactive Sheriff was marching forward to defeat our next beached rubble assault. 

For this swift boat solution, we pin our JAJ’s medal-of-distinction on all the responding county captains and crew. An equally important laurel, however, goes to our anonymous local beachcomber, who launched this beach salvage success story by Just Asking J’Amy!

Q. Lt Arnoldi, there used to be a mini-Sheriff substation at Montecito Community Hall. Can’t you reinstall that?

A. SB County Sheriff Lt. Butch Arnoldi responds, “I am happy to report Santa Barbara County Sherriff is back in Montecito. A Mini Sheriff workplace, with telecommunications equipment and two desks, is now operational at Montecito Union School. Deputies will not staff the station full time, but they will be there periodically to file reports.”

J’Amy responds, “This is great news; I am glad this Sherriff’s presence is back in our community, if only for filing reports! A Sheriffs presence inside our community should add to the community’s safety and well-being. Just knowing the Sheriff is often in the vicinity should deter crime and calm nerves.”


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