Santa Barbara Breakwall and Walkway Get a Facelift

Byline: Catherine French

Santa Barbara Breakwall and Walkway Get a Facelift

SANTA BARBARA — On most days, the popular waterfront walkway attached to the breakwall at Santa Barbara Harbor is bustling with tourists and locals who enjoy taking in the ocean views and watching the motoryachts and sailboats in the adjacent Marina 1.

Currently, this area is filled with workers and equipment replacing the last section of the walkway and parapet wall — which together make up the breakwall cap — in the final phase of this long-term project.

“We’re in the demolition phase right now,” said Karl Treiberg, waterfront facilities manager, about the final phase of the reconstruction work currently taking place.

The historic harbor and breakwall date back to 1925. At the time, yeast magnate Max C. Fleischmann, wanting a safe place to dock his 218-foot motoryacht, Haida, donated $200,000 for building the harbor adjacent to Santa Barbara Yacht Club, where he was a board member. He then challenged the city to match his donation. It did, and work was soon begun, with the first breakwall erected in 1927.

The current $1.9 million reconstruction project began in 2004 at the harbor entrance, on east end of the parapet wall and walkway. Since then, one section at a time has been replaced, with work beginning each time at the close of the high-traffic summer season.

“There are two reasons we have done this in phases,” Treiberg explained. “First, and most important, if we removed the entire parapet wall at one time, there would be no protection in the harbor from storms. And it is easier to bite off a bit of the expense a piece at a time, as well.”

The walkway and parapet wall date back to the 1950s, and they were replaced in the 1970s.

Made from stone, a parapet is usually an extension of an underlying wall — in this case, the riprap or base for the attached breakwall at Santa Barbara Harbor. The parapet is high enough to prevent severe winter storm sea conditions from entering the harbor and causing damage.

“In this final phase, we are removing nine panels of the sidewalk — and replacing them and the last 220 feet of parapet wall at the same time,” Treiberg said. “The project should be completed this November.”

Upon completion, the entire 1,300 linear feet of parapet wall and walkway that extend around the waterfront from west to east will have been replaced.

The project cost for this section is about $300,000. Funding is provided through the Santa Barbara Waterfront Capital Fund.

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