North Rincon Beach (locally known as Bates Beach, named for the access from Bates Rd.) is at the southern tip of Santa Barbara County, just north of Rincon Point.

The beach was once a safe, family-friendly environment that attracted several hundred people on summer weekends. On the convenient southern end, people came to exercise their dogs and watch the world-class surfers practice their skills. The more remote northern end served many people who enjoyed a clothing-optional beach experience. These traditional uses of the beach served the public well for over 40 years.

Beach tourists ate at local restaurants, stayed in local hotels, and brought an estimated half-million dollars into the local Carpinteria economy. A cooperative attitude worked well for the local community and allowed law enforcement officials to focus on significant incidents.

In 2000, a few community members pressed the local sheriff to chase away the nudists from the northern end of the beach, hoping more clothed beach-goers would take their place. But instead, the eviction caused a significant decrease in the number of beach-goers at Bates, providing an opening for drug dealers and others who took advantage of the now-empty stretch of sand for their illegal activities.

People considered that part of the beach so unsafe that in 2009, a security trailer was placed in the parking lot to combat an increase in gangs, drug use and prostitution.

Steps to Restore Bates Beach

  • Organize a Beach Watch Ambassador Program program to observe and report any illegal activity or inappropriate behavior. This trained team of Ambassadors coordinate with local law enforcement and park rangers to help keep the beach safe. At other beaches in the U.S. using this program, team volunteers wear special colored hats and make a point of welcoming all beach visitors, distributing trash bags, and periodically walking the beach.
  • Build the proposed extension of the Coastal Trail above the beach to attract hikers and bikers to the beach. The beach needs more people; this will help. So will extending the local bus lines an extra half-mile to Bates to connect tourists and hikers at the end of the Trail to the hotels and restaurants in town.
  • Extend the City Bus Line an extra mile so the buses will include a stop at Bates Beach at the head of the Coastal Trail.
  • Encourage beach tourists to Support the Local Businesses like shops, restaurants, and hotels in Carpinteria. Once the Coastal Trail is complete and the bus system expanded to Bates, we estimate these additional beach-goers on the northern half of Bates Beach could add up to $500,000 in city revenues per year.
  • Encourage neighborhood and beach-goer participation in the annual California Beach Clean-up Day. Last year we collected over 100 pounds of clothing, towels, cigarette butts, plastic foam, and other debris.
  • Support the proposed California Fair Use Plan and agree that the northern end of Bates Beach should be designated for clothing-optional use, as it was for over 40 years. The norther end is isolated and seldom-used, so re-establishing such use will not displace any current users. Previous experience has shown that, with proper signage, the chances for offense are very limited. We feel this is a valid recreation use, in the same way tennis courts, baseball fields, dog parks, bridle trails and other special interests are awarded land use. This will bring additional tourists to the beach, whose very presence will deter criminal activity.

We ask you for your support by participating in our events, joining as beach volunteer/Ambassador, by making a financial contribution, or any of these. Your donations help defray organization expenses including this web site.

'I (Heart) Bates Beach' Bumper Sticker Wide view of nearly empty Bates Beach