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Santa Barbara Co. park officials say Ocean Beach estuary is not open for recreational use

Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 08, 2020

After a recent announcement that the estuary at Ocean Beach Park near Lompoc was re-opening for public access, Santa Barbara County Park officials say that isn't the case.

The estuary at Ocean Beach Park has been closed for recreational use for the past 40 years but recently, park commissioner Jim Mosby stated he was told during a virtual September parks commission meeting the estuary would have a "soft opening."

"I went out there to see what was going on and talked with the ranger and they said it's open and I said, 'are you taking the sign down?' and he put a bag over the sign and I went out and recreated a bit because it was open," Mosby said.

Two days after taking his kayak out on the water, Vandenberg Air Force Base and Santa Barbara County Parks stated the estuary should remain closed out of concerns for wildlife and habitat in the estuary.

In a statement sent out by the county, Community Services Department Parks Superintendent Jeff Lindgren stated, "County Ocean Beach Park remains open for day use and visitors are asked to respect the restricted areas so that the county, Vandenberg Air Force Base, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and other regulatory agencies may continue discussion about options to open the estuary in the future."

"It was open for almost two days at least. In the last 40 years, we had two days. I know a lot of people enjoyed it in that time frame but it's not over and they are discussing, which is nice and that's what we need to do," Mosby said.

He hopes further discussions lead to a potential re-opening.

"It was a huge recreational opportunity for people in the past. I talked to a gentleman who was over 80 years old who told me that after high school they used to go out there and water ski in there and that was something that they would do especially on a warm day," Mosby said.

County parks officials call this a miscommunication, saying the estuary was never intended to open back up for recreational use but say there might still be an opportunity for that to happen in the near future.