1. HIGHWAY 101 HOV LANES
As has been widely reported, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) Board of Directors on Thursday, January 16, in an 11-2 vote, acted to keep the Highway 101 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on track. Retention of the left-hand on and off ramps was rejected.
Last August, when SBCAG adopted the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), SB CAN supported adoption of the plan, but urged the SBCAG board not to shorten the HOV lane as some SBCAG board members had suggested in May. We let them know if they shortened the HOV lane, that would have triggered a new RTP and jeopardized the project. We also would have withdrawn our support of the project. Many others joined us in calling for retention of the entire HOV lane.
Meanwhile, the Board also directed that three other projects--roundabouts at the San Ysidro and Olive Mill interchanges and the widening of the railroad bridge at Cabrillo Blvd. to make a safer bike/pedestrian facility--be developed concurrently, with assistance from an independent engineering firm, so those projects could be coordinated with the freeway construction.
Thanks to all who turned out to help keep the HOV component intact and the overall project on track.
Alex Pujo, on behalf of COAST, wrote the following excellent summary of the meeting:
At the end of a chaotic meeting that began one hour before schedule and ended three hours after adjournment time, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG, our regional transportation agency) voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to endorse Caltrans’ proposal to certify the environmental impact report (EIR) for the widening of Highway 101 between Cabrillo/Hot Springs and the Ventura County Line. The motion by Supervisor Carbajal and Lompoc Mayor Linn included the addition of three projects related to the widening (replacement of the railroad bridge at Cabrillo, and roundabouts at Olive Mill and San Ysidro interchanges) as separate elements to be pursued on a parallel track but independent of the EIR for the 101 widening. Supervisor Adam and Mayor Schneider voted ‘no.’
This decisive outcome elicited a sigh of relief from SBCAG and Caltrans staff and many of the 50 public speakers in Santa Maria and testifying remotely from Santa Barbara – and a polite but sharp rebuke to a sizable contingent of Montecito Association (MA) members that had lobbied heavily over the past year for an alternate plan. The Montecito Association plan (“Common Sense 101”) was based on retaining the existing left-lane freeway ramps at Cabrillo/Hot Springs and Sheffield instead of replacing them with standard, right-lane ramps. Their goal was to minimize cost and disruption but, once the plans were analyzed, it became apparent that the concept was fatally flawed and major components of the interchanges were unfeasible.
Retaining the left ramps implied that the project would have to cut short the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) “diamond” lanes originally proposed. When their design for a ramp at Los Patos proved unrealistic, the MA concluded that Coast Village Road merchants were wrong and that no on-ramp was needed there. Perhaps more embarrassing, MA members stated that Montecito residents did not use or need these lanes, managing to convince a few North County SBCAG directors that HOV lanes were “optional” and not part of a widening project entitled “Highway 101 HOV Project”.
It was clear at today’s hearing that MA had spent considerable resources lobbying SBCAG, targeting the more conservative representatives from North County who were not shy to express their distrust for government in general and Caltrans in particular. Multiple meetings in Sacramento and personal lobbying of Governor Brown prolonged the agony but could not alter the inevitable rejection of a flawed plan. When its demise became imminent, MA demanded that SBCAG amend and re-circulate the project’s EIR, a long, uphill climb at this point.
Contributing to the underlying confusion has been Santa Barbara Mayor Schneider’s insistence over the past year on Caltrans to re-study the safety of left-lane ramps (Montecito’s proposal) at the expense of the City’s main goal: to replace the railroad bridge over Cabrillo Boulevard as part of the freeway interchange re-design. This $15- to $20-million project, plus the less expensive roundabouts at Olive Mill and San Ysidro, are now on a separate but parallel path. While funding for a new rail bridge is uncertain at this point, the City will not grant a development permit for this interchange without it.
Alex Pujo, Director
Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST)
2. FREE EDIBLE LANDSCAPING WORKSHOP
SB CAN is co-sponsoring the following free Edible Landscaping workshop.
Here is a message from Jeanne Sparks on behalf of the Central Coast Green Team:
the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)
Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County,
the Central Coast Green Team, and others
Saturday, January 25 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Elwin Mussell Senior Center
510 Park Ave., Santa Maria
UCCE Master Gardeners Diane Galvan, Karen McConaghy and Katy Renner will define edible landscaping, provide guidelines for a good edible landscape plan, and discuss planting, maintaining, harvesting and storing edible landscape foods safely. The workshop will help people transform their landscapes into ones that are sustainable and provide fresh and healthy produce, herbs and fruit year-round.
A representative from Engel & Gray will give a brief presentation on the city’s composting program and how using compost is beneficial to gardens.
At the end of the meeting, Jeanne Sparks, Green Team executive director, will give a brief presentation about the Green Team's Edible Landscaping Demonstration Garden located behind the Mussell Center. She will invite attendees to visit the garden and become involved in it.
“We hope people will be inspired by what they learn at the workshop and start their own edible landscaping gardens,” Sparks said. “Growing food at home is rewarding. The vegetables are not only healthy, but tasty, since they can be harvested at their peak ripeness the same day they are eaten. We hope to promote more healthy lifestyles by getting people to grow some of their food at home. And they can do it in an aesthetically pleasing manner. They can have a beautiful garden and eat it, too!”
The Central Coast Green Team invited the Master Gardeners to put on the workshop as a way to encourage local residents to create edible landscaping gardens in their homes and businesses.
The workshop is sponsored by Central Coast Green Team, Santa Barbara County Action Network, Central Coast Gardeners, Central Coast Geranium Society, UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County, and Engel & Gray/Harvest Blend Compost.
Reservations are not required, however, if you know you are coming, please let us know by emailing [email protected] to help us get an idea of how many are coming.
Central Coast Green Team