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Ellwood Trails and Habitat Restoration Project

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Current Status

In October 2019, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) approved the City’s Ellwood Trails and Habitat Restoration Project with a Notice of Intent to Issue Permit. The approval, through the Coastal Act, was conditioned with nine special conditions (see the Notice of Intent to Issue Permit). A number of the requirements have been already been completed including environmental review and permit acquisition from other regulatory agencies, the remaining requirements will be met before, during, and post project activities. 

The City will continue to update this page after future milestones are reached, or as needed, in order to keep the interested public up-to-date.

Early in 2020, the project was transferred from Advance Planning staff to the Public Works Department and will be administered by the City’s Parks & Open Space Manager.

Project Description

The proposed Ellwood Mesa Coastal Trails and Habitat Restoration Project would improve approximately 2.1 miles of existing coastal trails on the Ellwood Mesa/Sperling Preserve Open Space (Ellwood Mesa). This would include improvements to 1.56 miles of existing trails as well as drainage improvements to direct surface flows off of trails and improvements in trail tread surface such as leveling and eliminating ruts or ridges within the trail. In addition, approximately 0.54 miles of trail would be realigned around sensitive areas in conformance with the City of Goleta General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan. The proposed Project would also include improvements to three drainage crossings, and two existing beach access points. Additionally, habitat restoration is proposed for approximately 12-13 acres adjacent to the trail and coastal blufftop as envisioned and planned for in the 2004 Ellwood-Devereux Coast Open Space and Habitat Management Plan.

Purpose and Need

This project would make improvements at Ellwood Mesa, including portions of the California Coastal Trail and Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, along with restoring wildlife and other natural habitats along the trail corridor, blufftop areas and two beach access points in order to improve overall accessibility throughout Ellwood Mesa, enhance public safety, and protect and restore the sensitive biological resources within the area.

Funding Source

Funding obtained by the Santa Barbara Trails Council from the Coastal Conservancy and the Goleta Valley Land Trust in 2012, and from the County of Santa Barbara and the University of California Regents in 2014.  This funding provides a unique opportunity to begin improvements that will help maintain valuable natural resources, improve recreational access, address safety issues and support the long-term sustainability of Ellwood Mesa.

The City will continue to team with the Santa Barbara Trails Council, the Coastal Conservancy and other entities in the pursuit of additional funding. The City will also coordinate funding efforts where the Ellwood Trails and Habitat Restoration Project overlap with and share goals with the Ellwood Mesa/Sperling Preserve’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan.

The City will continue to update this page after future milestones are reached, or as needed, in order to keep the interested public up-to-date.

Environmental Review

On June 16, 2014 the Planning Commission approved a resolution adopting the Final Mitigated Negative Declaration (Final MND) and the Monitoring, Monitoring, and Reporting Program (MMRP), and approving the Development Plan for the Ellwood Mesa Coastal Trails and Habitat Restoration Project. 

For information on the Planning Commission hearing, please see the Public Outreach and Hearings section below.

To read the Final Mitigated Negative Declaration and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, click on the following link:

Ellwood Trails Final MND and MMRP

Background Materials

Ellwood Trails Map (revised Feb. 2019) 

Ellwood Trails Map

Trails Project FAQ

Staff Report Seeking CC Authorization for Env. Review (2/5/13)

Coastal Conservancy Grant Agreement (3/29/12)

Ellwood Mesa Coastal Trail Coastal Conservancy Resolution

Ellwood Mesa Coastal Trails and Habitat Restoration Project Request (5/14/12)

Relevant Policy Excerpts from the General Plan

Public Outreach and Hearings

Workshop #1 – September 6, 2012

Workshop Presentation

Station Comments

Post-It Comments

Workshop #2 – December 5, 2012

Workshop Presentation

Scribe Notes

Summary of Public Comments by Topic

Environmental Hearing – April 16, 2014

Project MND Environmental Hearing Presentation

Ellwood MND Notice of Availability

Ellwood Mesa Coastal Trails and Habitat Restoration Project Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration

Planning Commission Adoption Hearing – June 16, 2014

For a recording of the hearing, visit here.

Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Public Hearing

Planning Commission Staff Report

Planning Commission Presentation

Planning Commission Resolution

Development Plan Permit Findings

Development Plan Conditions of Approval

General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan Consistency Analysis

Coastal Zoning Ordinance Consistency Analysis



George Thomson
(805) 961-7578

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