Left: Garden Street/101 Property // Right: Pollutants oozing out of 101 South onramp
In 1999, during the earliest days of HTO, someone came into our office with a vial of putrid water collected from the wall of the 101 freeway south onramp at Garden Street. We had it tested – and the bacterial readings were off the charts.
HTO chased this issue for years and were led astray by many City, County, and State officials, who said this area only consisted of a wood-mulching company. Our petition to the Regional Water Quality Control Board merely led the owner of the mulching company having to cover the area with tarps during a rain.
HTO chased this issue for years, going through City boring records, County Environmental Health services records, Santa Barbara News-Pressmicrofiche records. We were determined that one cannot cover up a landfill with dirt and leave. It has to monitored, capped, controlled, dug up – remediated. The polluted groundwater beneath this site spreads, and it spreads to the ocean.
Finally, this property came before the City Planning Commission in January 2016 for approval of a magnificent plaza project, designed by celebrated architect Brian Cearnal. HTO went to this meeting and praised the project, because, we said to the Commission, it was an opportunity to clean up the mess underneath. The Commission agreed with us, and Brian Cearnal came to HTO offices to discuss a remedy. At this point Santa Barbara County Public Health Site Mitigation (SMU) officials became involved.
So now, twenty years after HTO started sleuthing on this issue, on January 28, 2019, we received a copy of a cleanup directive from Santa Barbara County Public Health to the owner of this property. It is comprehensive - and it states (in Section 11) that the site must be cleaned up whether it is developed or not. Heal the Ocean hopes that the site will be cleaned up such that Brian Cearnal great vision for this property can be realized.