City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation staff have completed work on the Shoreline Park Torii Gate Garden Restoration Project. The donation-funded project was a collaboration between the Parks and Recreation Department and local organizations.
In 1998, a traditional torii gate and Japanese garden were installed in Shoreline Park to honor Santa Barbara’s sister city, Toba, Japan. While the torii gate marking the entrance to the Shoreline Steps remained a notable feature of the park, much of the garden was lost over the years due to increased canopy cover from overhead eucalyptus trees and water restrictions from the ongoing drought.
Local groups Our Neighborhood Mesa Inc (OMNI) and the Toba Sister City Organization, alongside one of the project’s original designers, Wade Nomura, approached the Parks and Recreation Department to return elements of the garden’s original design and return a cultural space to Shoreline Park. OMNI led a campaign to raise $5,000 for the project, and Parks Division staff performed the work. Neighborhood volunteers helped with the final planting of the garden.
The project included regrading areas where elevation changed over time, relocating boulders, relocating the irrigation system, addressing soil compaction, and installing landscaping better suited for the shady, low-water conditions.
Temporary landscape fencing will remain around the garden while the plants establish. Community members interested in assisting with the ongoing care of the garden are invited to contact OMNI at OurMesaNeighborhoodInc.org