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We should take care of public beaches before demanding access to more

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Brianna Crow, Staff Writer

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When I was a child, my mom wouldn’t let us run around outside until we cleaned up our toys. It was a basic lesson taught at an early age.

Santa Barbara locals don’t keep their beaches clean, so why are they asking for public access to the beaches along the Hollister Ranch coastline?

I love taking my dogs to the Douglas Family Preserve. Not only is it beautiful property on the cliffs above the beach, but I get to let my dogs off their leashes to run around.

If you walk to the far point overlooking the Boathouse and the coast all the way to UCSB, though,  you will not only see a beautiful backdrop to take photos but you’ll also see tons of shattered glass and trash. Is that in the Santa Barbara brochures? Our beautiful picturesque ocean backdrop with shattered glass and trash littering our cliffs? When I try to photograph my dogs there, I have to strategically position the camera as to not get the litter in the background.

Last fall, Explore Ecology did their annual California coastal cleanup day for Santa Barbara County. Among 27 spots ranging from Santa Maria and Guadalupe down to Carpinteria, they removed 3,530 pounds of trash and 971 pounds of recyclables.

On March 9, City College’s Phi Theta Kappa did a beach clean up day at Leadbetter Beach. They said there were small amounts of trash over the winter, but the summer brings higher volumes of trash.

When I lived in upstate South Carolina, there weren’t a lot of beaches to choose from because much of the east coast privatized their beaches. That very reason is why the California Coastal Commission was originally formed, to avoid the issues that the east coast has with minimal public beach access.

However, beaches on the east coast are clean and taken care of. While the downside is that everyone flocks to the same small public beach, having to pay for a summer share to get some privacy gives these restrictions a purpose. Beaches are highly coveted and respected, they aren’t something to take advantage of.

Why are we fighting for land that is currently kept pristine and clean when we can’t even keep our current spaces clean? The California Coastal Commission is fighting for a space that is kept relatively untouched, but they can’t even keep their current public access beaches clean.  The taxpayer money they are using to fight for Hollister Ranch beach should be used to clean up what we currently have, like the Douglas Family Preserve.

Shouldn’t we learn to respect and clean up what we currently have before asking for more? I think so.

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We should take care of public beaches before demanding access to more