Summerland Beach

On August 17, 2017, the California State Lands Commission (SLC) certified the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project to remedy leaking oil wells at Summerland Beach; see news release. See SLC website for more information.

See the California Coastal Commission September 13, 2017 meeting for an agenda item regarding a coastal permit application for the Becker Well project.

Complaints of odors at Summerland Beach were received in February, 2016 and investigated by District inspectors. The District continues to coordinate efforts with Public Health to address odors and public health concerns. For more information, contact the District at (805) 961-8800.

Oil sightings at Summerland Beach should be reported immediately to:

  • USCG National Response Center (NRC) at (800) 424-8802
  • California Office of Emergency Services (Cal-OES) at (800) 852-7550

Residents can also report complaints directly to the State Lands Commission by submitting a Report Form.


From time to time the District has received complaints of strong odors at Summerland Beach. Possible causes of the odors and oil on the beach could be seeps or abandoned oil wells off the Summerland coast. Summerland saw significant oil development in the late 1800s to early 1900s, when hundreds of wells were drilled. However these wells have since been abandoned. For background, see the State Lands Commission September 1, 2011 Presentation on the Summerland Oil Field.

Recent Events

On Thursday, August 20, 2015 the District was informed of concerns about odors and oil at Summerland Beach. District inspectors visited the site in the afternoon and reported that there were substantial amounts of oil in the water and on the beach. Odors consistent with crude oil were detected.

Sampling of air toxics was conducted at Summerland Beach on Friday, August 21, 2015 in the afternoon. The sample was analyzed for 66 different air toxics using EPA Method TO-15.  The analysis did not detect any measurable amounts of air toxics, see the Results. The District plans to conduct future air sampling at Summerland Beach at a time when odors are being reported.

On August 21, 2015 the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department closed Summerland Beach due to concerns about conditions there.  On August 24, 2015, the Public Health Department announced the re-opening of the beach, see the Press Release. Warnings remain in effect as the situation with oil and odors can change rapidly. It is recommended that people and animals avoid exposure to crude oil compounds and strong odors. On September 15, 2015, the District attended a Community Meeting that was held to discuss this matter.

Becker Well Abandonment Project

The State Lands Commission is investigating the Summerland Beach issue. In a meeting on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, the State Lands Commission discussed efforts to address the issue via a longer-term, phased abandonment project of the Becker well, which is a suspected source of the oil. For more information on the State Lands Commission process, see the Staff Report regarding the Summerland Becker Onshore Well from the August 19, 2015 meeting.

On November 2, 2015, the State Lands Commission announced that the excavation and assessment of the Becker Onshore Well had been performed. For more information on that process and next steps, see the announcement.