On Jan. 11, the Santa Barbara County Community Services Department and Parks Division officially completed construction of site improvements and a new ranger office at Arroyo Burro Beach Park.
The park, which is nicknamed “Hendry’s Beach,” is at 2981 Cliff Drive.
The main park improvements included fencing reconfiguration, installation of security cameras, replacement of a 330-square foot ranger office and maintenance building, new ADA-compliant pathways and the installation of a water-collecting cistern to reduce water usage.
The streetscape improvements covered 17,000 square feet and included both new and enhanced seating near the highly used dog wash and bus stop areas, along with upgrades to the existing irrigation and drought-tolerant landscaping at the park entrance and the almost quarter mile along Cliff Drive.
Jill Van Wie, the county’s Capital Division manager, oversaw the project and its funding, design and construction. She told the News-Press that Arroyo Burro Beach is a high priority for the county.
“I’m excited because I think the improvements really beautify the park and save the taxpayers money to reduce water usage,” she said. “We needed to enhance the park and make it nicer for the public.”
The former ranger office was torn down a few years ago for safety reasons. The new office is also part of an effort by the county to increase security and prominence of the park ranger in the area.
“We made some of the sight lines a little bit clearer for a little bit more visibility in the park and less nooks to hide in,” Ms. Van Wie said.
The project, which totaled $1,380,000, was funded with Development Impact Fees and annual park maintenance funds. The lawn area in front of the ranger office was also replaced, but Ms. Van Wie said it was only replaced because the contractor has to repair whatever they damage during construction.
“It’s not really a new lawn,” she said, adding that many have asked why the area wasn’t turned into a hardscape to also reduce water usage. “It’s important to have one park place that’s green for people to enjoy. People like to sit and lay on the lawn, and it’s a dog park — it’s good to have a place aside from just the beach for dogs to go.
“Apartments and condos don’t have that kind of landscape around their home.”
Local architect Jeffrey Stoutenborough and local landscape architect Guillermo González of blue.studio designed the Arroyo Burro ranger office and site improvements. RK&G Construction, Inc. of Santa Maria completed the construction, and David Shelton Studios, Inc. designed and constructed the decorative handrails.
“There’s a lot of public parks and public campgrounds, both federal and state, that are closed, so to be able to get out and enjoy nature in any sense, whether it’s going to a green space or going to the beach — it’s vital to somebody’s mental health and physical health,” Ms. Van Wie said. “Just to be able to get out and walk around, and to a limited and safe extent, see other people and enjoy things … It’s important.”
Arroyo Burro Beach hosts more than 1.3 million residents and visitors annually.
Ms. Van Wie added that there are more improvements in the works, such as repaving the parking lot, potentially implementing a boardwalk pathway in between the parking stalls to get people out of the way of cars, and renovating the beachfront area.
To learn more, visit sbparks.org.