Summerland Beach Clean-Up

By Joanne A Calitri   |   June 27, 2023
The volunteers from Summerland who turned out to clean up their beach (photo courtesy of Summerland Beautiful)

At 8 am on Saturday, June 17, the sun came out with blue skies after six months of gray, cloudy, and rainy weather. I couldn’t help but wonder if the Sun God Re and Mother Nature were sending their blessings to the Summerland Beautiful organization and the Summerland Citizens Association (SCA) Beach Committee, who planned to clean up Summerland beach. Was nature saying profoundly that when we take deliberate acts to clean up our trash on this gracious blue planet, it will be there shining its energy on us and removing the gloomy gray? 

“Yes!” we all exclaimed as 25 volunteers gathered at the Summerland Post Office parking lot to get their gloves and trash bags provided for free by Heal the Ocean, and instructions on collecting the found beach trash. 

The clean-up was headed by Summerland Beautiful President D’Arcy Cornwall, and her team of Elizabeth Winterhalter (Treasurer), Penny Mathison (Secretary), and Leslie Person Ryan (Past President). They coordinated with Katie Graham, Chair of the SCA Beach Committee and Heal the Ocean, and hope this will be the start of a regular clean-up plan. This clean-up was prompted by the winter storms and oil seepage further contaminating the trash left behind by the storms and people.

If you have not yet been to Summerland Beach, know this task is Herculean – the beach is a few tenths of a mile downhill from the post office – first navigate under the 101 freeway to Lookout Park, and then walk down the cliffside hill path to the beach. Volunteers combed the area and brought the trash-filled bags back to the pickup truck at the post office. Some trash was too large to even get lifted, like the huge black tarp found buried in the sand with piles of rocks on top of it. The tarp was cut to remove some of it, with the rest to be dug out by the Parks team. There were also large pieces of rusted iron from construction work and the ever-abandoned lobster traps, one with the tag on it for identification.

Summerland Beautiful team: D’Arcy Cornwall, Leslie Person Ryan, Elizabeth Winterhalter, and Penny Mathison (photo by Joanne A Calitri)
Volunteer Megan Tingstrom, owner of the Red Kettle on Lillie Avenue, handing off her collected trash to D’Arcy Cornwall (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

Graham’s beach surveys led her to suggest areas of attention: Wallace Avenue from the junction of Evans toward the freeway on the Finney side of the street; the Sanitary District area of beach parking; Via Real from Summerland School to Padaro Beach; Padaro Beach to Lambert Road in Summerland; the pipe at the Loon Point sea wall; the Loon Point creek trail; and the most notable beach erosion that is now flush along the paved walkway from the park to the beach. 

Regarding these high-risk areas, the clean-up today and the oil seepage issues, SCA Board President Phyllis Noble added, “The clean-up was prompted by the aftermath of the January storms. The SCA and Summerland Beautiful wanted to clean up the oil-soaked debris as quickly as possible. County Parks echoed these concerns, also asking that the oil-soaked debris be properly disposed of. The SCA submitted an ‘ocean hazard’ photo survey to the State Lands Commission (SLC) early this year requesting their engineers survey these hazards the January storms exposed. For the first time ever, SLC sent Padre Associates to pinpoint on GPS where the hazards are located so a removal plan can be organized. Oil will always be a naturally occurring beach-side visitor in the Santa Barbara Channel. As for capping another oil well, there are a couple planned after July when the new fiscal year begins.”

By 11:15 am the clean-up was a wrap, and Cornwall shared, “We are so grateful for the Summerland community response to the clean-up. The turn-out was above our expectations. Over 30 bags of trash were collected around the Summerland streets and at the beach. Floor matting, plastic bumpers, lobster traps, netting, construction tarp and trash including bottles, paper, cardboard, and cigarette butts.  Summerland Beautiful plans to hold another clean-up in six months. Thank you to all who participated!”



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