SB CAN Action Alert May 12, 2015 - NC HOT Committee, Waterwise Workshops, Op-ed on Santa Maria's downtown

Santa Barbara County Action Network 

Action Alert 
May 12, 2015

Topics:

  1. North County H.O.T. Committee on Thursday, May 14
  2. Waterwise Workshops countywide
  3. Editorial on Santa Maria's downtown 

 

1.  SB CAN North County H.O.T. (Housing, Open space and Transportation) Committee meeting Thursday, May 14 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 
Cornerstone Community Room, 705 S. McClelland St., Santa Maria (in the same building as the Discovery Museum)

AGENDA 

  1. Call to Order by Chair Jerry Connor; Introductions; Agenda Review (5 min.)
  2. Relocation of OASIS Senior Center in Orcutt: Doug Dougherty, Executive Director of the Center and Vivek Harris, project architect, will present plans for the new OASIS. If you want a preview, go to http://oasisorcutt.org/New%20Oasis.html. The project will be considered by the County Planning Commission on June 11 and County planning staff will be recommending against project approval based on it not being consistent with the Orcutt Community Plan. The relevant section of that plan begins on page 351 at http://longrange.sbcountyplanning.org/planareas/orcutt/documents/Orcutt%20Community%20Plan%20Final%20web%20version.pdf   (30 min.) 
  3. SB CAN report: A Community Alert—Risks From Oil Trains & the Phillips 66 Rail Spur Project: Ken Hough: Monthly update on status of efforts to convince County of San Luis Obispo to disapprove the project, including review of this report prepared by Jane Baxter for SB CAN. (10 min.)
  4. City of Santa Maria Bicycle Grant Application for Blosser Road: The city is asking for a letter of support from SB CAN. We have invited city staff to present their project proposal. (10 min.)
  5. City of Santa Maria Integrated Plan for Water Quality: A comprehensive water quality program for oil industry toxins was developed by SB CAN staff. Staff attended a community outreach meeting and presented our proposed project. (5 min.)
  6. Other Bike/Ped safety issues: continuing discussion on this important topic. (10 min.)
  7. Guadalupe Ciclovia: Staff will report on last Saturday’s event (5 min.)
  8. Other HOT items of interest to those in attendance: All (5 min.)
  9. Suggestions for next month’s agenda

2. Waterwise Workshops

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More information and RSVP at: waterwisesb.org/workshops


3.  Editorial on Santa Maria's downtown:

Giving the downtown area an identity

This "Looking Forward" op-ed piece by Jeanne Sparks was published in the Santa Maria Times on April 9, 2015: http://santamariatimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/commentary/looking-forward/giving-the-downtown-area-an-identity/article_7469d901-127f-5b8e-902d-c4ae74524744.html

The city of Santa Maria is trying to create a more attractive downtown. Let’s create something that will draw people in — a water feature with a tower and artwork to attract residents and tourists. Perhaps we could daylight a creek.

According to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, “Creek daylighting refers to projects that uncover and restore creeks, streams, and rivers previously buried in underground pipes and culverts, covered by decks, or otherwise removed from view.”

We don’t think of our city as having creeks, because the natural waterways have been diverted, but it could.

Daylighting has been happening a lot around the country and the world. The city of San Luis Obispo restored San Luis Obispo Creek near the mission in the 1970s. A culvert was taken out, the creek widened, and native trees were planted to provide shade, food and habitat.

Part of busy Monterey Street was closed to create a walkable, park-like setting. Art, decorative lighting and places to gather created an identity. Residents engaged with the city’s natural riparian heritage.

The creek as a focal point and the walkable plaza turned around the city’s downtown, taking it from a 60-percent vacancy rate to no vacancies, according to former SLO Chamber of Commerce President Dave Garth.

Let’s look into doing that in Santa Maria, perhaps on McClelland Street where efforts have already begun, or in Town Center West, or in another area of downtown.

Daylighting a creek would create a natural feature that could attract a lot of people while providing a water recharge benefit. It could have a pond or two, river rocks to climb on and native plants and trees to attract wildlife. Even when dry, the creek bed could be an attraction.

If not daylighting, let’s put in an artificial pond or other water structure. Closing part of a street, with plenty of parking on the periphery, can create unique opportunities. Walkability is integral to the success of the effort.

The tower would attract residents and tourists to get an awesome view of our beautiful valley. It would change how people see us, even how we see ourselves. It could help Santa Maria to become known as the “City of Towers” envisioned by former Planning Director Bill Orndorff.

This project is not something I’d expect to happen right away, but let’s start a discussion on it. The city could solicit public input, offer stipends to students to come up with designs, and study what it would take to make it happen. Perhaps it could be integrated not only into the city’s efforts to improve downtown, but also its effort to improve water quality.

The city recently held a community meeting on its developing an integrated plan, a watershed-based approach to protect water resources. The EPA chose Santa Maria as one of five communities to develop a plan that could be used as an example to others. It would include comprehensive planning, green infrastructure and environmental and public health benefits.

I applaud the city for the integrated approach. The city plans another community meeting in August. Information is at www.santamariacleanwater.org. Let them know what you would like.

Jeanne Sparks is associate director of Santa Barbara County Action Network (SB CAN). She can be reached at jeanne@sbcan.org. Looking Forward runs every Friday in the Santa Maria Times, providing a progressive viewpoint on local issues.


Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Thank you,

Ken Hough
SB CAN Executive Director
ken@sbcan.org
805.563.0463
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If you are not already a member, please consider joining SB CAN, a progressive organization working to promote social and economic justice, to preserve our environmental and agricultural resources, and to create sustainable communities. SB CAN advocates a holistic approach to community planning that integrates housing, open space, and transportation to meet the needs of all members of our community and future generations.

SB CAN is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Memberships and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. Click here to become a member. Click here to make a donation.

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Thank you,

Ken Hough
SB CAN Executive Director

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Santa Barbara County Action Network
Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN) works to promote social and economic justice, to preserve our environmental and agricultural resources, and to create sustainable communities.