Austin Road Home Poses Real Hazards to Beachgoers

The backyard of 5289 Austin Road as seen from the beach below on January 2024 (contributed photo)

One of the homes perched on the cliff overlooking the beach near More Mesa beach has become a true hazard to anyone visiting that beach. Austin Road is a blufftop road in the Mesa Shores home development with nine homes that overlook the beach below. One of these homes was built too close to the cliff’s edge, and it has lost a significant portion of its backyard to cliff erosion. I am writing to Edhat readers to let them know of this dangerous situation, and in hopes that some kind of public pressure can be applied on the owner to remedy the situation. 

Large chunks of the cliff have collapsed onto the beach below, and for a number of years those collapses have taken anything perched on it. So far I have witnessed the loss of a small gazebo, a long concrete bench and planter, and portions of an iron fence. Some other structure that I can’t identify, perhaps some kind of enclosed decking, is now barely hanging on. Some of these things are still on the beach, partially buried in the dirt and rocks that accompanied their fall. 

The top picture was taken in January of 2024 of the backyard of 5289 Austin Road. Note the hanging ribbon of concrete down the cliff, the visible edge of the concrete pad, and the rectangular structure to the left of the tree.

But in just the last month the cliff collapse accelerated to expose five or six feet of a very large outdoor barbecue structure that appears to include a refrigerator and a sink. It’s literally hanging out in space over the cliff’s edge. I don’t know if the barbecue is propane, natural gas or electric, but whatever fuels it is also at risk, and poses more hazard, besides the mere hundreds of pounds of expensive appliances, tile and concrete waiting to fall. 

The below photo was taken in March of 2024. In two months a dramatic loss of the concrete pad has taken place, exposing the barbecue structure. More of the iron fence has come down, and the structure to the left of the tree has been destroyed.

The backyard of 5289 Austin Road as seen from the beach below on March 2024 (contributed photo)

Santa Barbara County is aware of this situation and has been documenting the degrading situation since at least 2020. This is an enormous safety hazard for anyone on the beach below by leaving all the backyard structures in place while the cliff undercuts them.

This part of the beach is hard to get to and is not visited by large crowds. I am a rather regular low tide beach runner and I pass this point any time the tide permits. I see a few people here with kids and pets quite often. Seals and shorebirds are common visitors as well. The beach gets swept by nearly every high tide and keeps it clean. 

It’s a beautiful place with a remote, wild feel to it, until you look up.

Edhat Reader

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  1. OP wrote: “One of these homes was built too close to the cliff’s edge”. Not necessarily. It is the bluff top that has eroded too close to the home. 😉 It is not the only Austin Rd property soon to go seaward. Part of the problem is that some of the homes have extensive lawns with irrigation. Keep a look at the cliff face when they are watering. Or after a good rain. The water seeps about 10 ft down and then flows out of the cliff face, taking with it chunks of shale and sandstone. We almost bought one of those homes years ago. Engineer said sooner or later it would be beachside and recommended relocating the home back from the brink. Maybe a nice seawall. Nah. Nature always wins.

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