Support extending Santa Maria levee trail to Guadalupe

On Tuesday, May 17, the Board of Supervisors will consider whether to extend the Santa Maria levee trail to Guadalupe, which could become a wonderful recreational and transportation asset for residents of the Santa Maria Valley.


We urge you to attend a rally organized by CAUSE prior to the item coming before the board. It will be Tuesday, May 17 at 1:30 p.m. at the Betteravia Government Center, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria. 

If you can’t show up in person, please send written comments to the board by 5 p.m. Monday or testify remotely on Tuesday.

More information about testifying is below.

For more information on the issue, read this op-ed written by Jeanne Sparks and published in the Santa Maria Times May 14, 2022:

It’s a travesty that we don’t have a trail on the levee from Santa Maria to Guadalupe when it had been proposed more than 30 years ago, but it’s not too late.

I was working in the Fifth District Supervisor’s Office in 1992 when the City of Santa Maria proposed moving forward with a plan to establish a levee bikeway that was in the county regional plan. It would take coordination between the county and the city since the county owned and maintained the levee and the city would provide access to the public.

The county’s Flood Control District worried about liability, but that issue eventually was resolved.

What was not resolved was the opposition from farmers who feared crops would be spoiled since farm fields are next to the levee, and they believed having a trail on the levee would attract people and dogs to romp in their fields.

However, their argument does not hold water. People and dogs can already access their fields. And many bikeways and walkways already run beside farm fields in the Santa Maria Valley because farm fields are ubiquitous in our valley.

Farmers say a better alternative would be to put a bikeway next to Highway 166, but that road runs between farm fields. How are those fields different from fields next to the levee?  

Highway 166 is unsafe and unpleasant for pedestrians and cyclists from the heavy, noisy trucks that regularly travel that road. It does not have the serenity and beauty of the riverbed.

The lack of safe trails and bikeways in the Santa Maria Valley is an injustice to the people who live here, the majority of whom are people of color. County supervisors, especially those who represent this area, should be pushing for this levee trail to be extended to Guadalupe just as Supervisor Tom Urbanske pushed for the initial segment of the trail to be created.

That segment, from Suey Crossing Road to North Blosser Road, was opened on Jan. 11, 2002, after years of efforts by the Fifth District Office and the City. Urbanske and I hoped that the trail would eventually be extended after the first segment was opened and it grew in popularity.

We are at that point now. There is a large constituency of county residents who would like the trail to be opened.

On Tuesday, May 17, the Board of Supervisors will consider whether to extend the trail to Guadalupe. Supervisors will decide whether to create a wonderful recreational and transportation asset for the residents of the north county or whether they will cave to pressure from powerful agricultural interests.

It’s a sad fact that lower-income residents of the north county, many of whom are farmworkers, have fewer recreational opportunities than wealthier south county residents. For example, Santa Barbara has over 130 miles across 52 trails while residents of the Santa Maria Valley have a mere eight miles of trails in two areas.

North county supervisors have often lamented that the north county doesn’t get its fair share. Here is an opportunity for north county supervisors to provide some greatly needed recreational opportunities for their constituents and for south county supervisors to stand up for environmental justice.

Will they do it?

I hope so. Maybe if enough people speak up on Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors hearing or send letters to the board by Monday, supervisors will do the right thing. It is item number seven and is expected to come up at 3 p.m.

Go to or for details on how to make your voice heard.

I hope you will help make this opportunity a reality.

Jeanne Sparks is the associate director of Santa Barbara County Action Network. She served as the Fifth District executive assistant from 1991 to 2003.

Read the letter from SBCAN to the Board of Supervisors here:

An informative op-ed by Rebeca Garcia was published in the Santa Maria Times March 18. Read it here:

You can read the county's full report here:

How to testify to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors

The board will meet in Santa Barbara at 105 E. Anapamu St. on the fourth floor. You can attend there in person. If you are in Santa Maria, you can testify remotely from the Betteravia Government Center, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway, where the rally will be held.

You can also testify via Zoom. Register in advance for the meeting at

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing important information about joining the webinar.

If you would like to make a comment by phone, please call 805-568-2240 and state your name, your phone number and which item you would like to speak on (Item #7) and the clerk will call you at the appropriate time. Please make every effort to be available and mute all streaming devices once it is your turn to speak. 

If you are not available on Tuesday, please submit your comment via email prior to 5 p.m. on Monday, limited to 250 words or less, to the Clerk of the Board. Please state in your email that you would like this "read into the record." Every effort will be made to read your comment into the record, but some comments may not be read due to time limitations. Comments received on an agenda item will be placed into the record and distributed accordingly.

If you would like to submit a pre-drafted email, click here:

Detailed information from the County:

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors currently provides in-person participation as well as virtual participation until further notice.

The following alternative methods of participation are available to the public:

You may observe the live stream of the Board meetings in the following ways:

- Televised in English and Spanish (SAP channel via Comcast and Cox) on local cable channel 20;
- Online at: <>; and
- YouTube at: <> (Closed Captioning Available)

If you wish to provide public comment, the following methods are available:

- Distribution to the Board of Supervisors - Submit your comment via email prior to 5:00 PM on the day prior to the Board meeting. Please submit your comment to the Clerk of the Board at: [email protected]. Your comment will be distributed to the Board and posted online. Whether the comment is formally part of the record depends on the agenda item it is submitted for and its length and time of submittal as set out in Board Resolution 91-333 (Land Use).

- Attend the Meeting In-Person - Individuals are allowed to attend and provide comments at the Board meeting in-person. Please note, we are following all local and State guidelines and are no longer requiring face coverings indoors. Please be advised that the Public Health Department is still strongly encouraging County staff and members of the public to mask and socially distance themselves in public areas.

- Attend the Meeting by Zoom Webinar - Individuals wishing to provide public comment during the Board meeting can do so via Zoom webinar by clicking the below link to register in advance.

Register in advance for this meeting: 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing important information about joining the webinar.

Please DO NOT call or join until the item you want to speak on is being discussed.

  1. Once the Chair has announced the item you want to comment on, please join the meeting.
  2. You will be placed on mute until it is your turn to speak. You will be able to hear the Board meeting live after calling in and will need to turn off or mute your TV or the web stream to avoid sound interference.
  3. The Clerk will call you by name. When removed from mute, you will hear a notification that your line has been unmuted. If you are using a touchtone phone, you may need to press *6.
  4. Each person may address the Board for up to three minutes at the discretion of the Chair.
  5. When your time is up or you have concluded your comments, please hang up or log out.

If you have any questions or if you are participating in the hearing telephonically or electronically and need a disability-related modification or accommodation or have any issues attempting to access the hearing telephonically or electronically, please contact the Clerk of the Board's Office at (805) 568-2240.

Board Meeting Procedures

The Board of Supervisors is the legislative body for the County of Santa Barbara. Persons are encouraged to attend and testify before the Board on any matter appearing on the agenda.

Correspondence to the Board regarding items appearing on the agenda should be directed to the Clerk of the Board, 105 East Anapamu Street, Room 407, Santa Barbara CA 93101. For information regarding the meetings of the Board of Supervisors including specific meeting times, or any special accommodations, please contact the Clerk of the Board at (805) 568-2240 or [email protected]. Procedures for the conduct of the meetings of the Board of Supervisors can be found in Board Resolutions 09-368 (General) and 91-333 (Land Use).

The schedule of the Board of Supervisors, meeting agendas, supplemental hearing materials and minutes of the Board meetings are available on the Internet at: Board Meetings are televised live on County of Santa Barbara TV channel 20. For information about obtaining a videotape of a public hearing or a schedule of CSBTV broadcasts please call (805) 568-3427.

Late Distribution and Ex-Parte Communication

Any disclosable public records related to an open session item on a regular meeting agenda and distributed by the Clerk of the Board to all or a majority of the members of the Board of Supervisors less than 72 hours prior to that meeting are available for inspection in the Clerk of the Board Office, 105 East Anapamu Street, Room 407, Santa Barbara, CA, at the Office of the Board of Supervisors, Betteravia Government Center, 511 East Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria, CA and on the Internet at: Any written ex-parte communication subject to disclosure by members of the Board of Supervisors may be published online as an attachment to the corresponding item.

Disability Access

The Board of Supervisors Hearing Room in Santa Barbara is located on the Fourth Floor of the County Administration Building, 105 East Anapamu Street. The Hearing Room is wheelchair accessible. Accessible public parking is available behind the County Administration Building and in City Parking Lot #6 located at the corner of Anacapa Street and Anapamu Street.

The Board of Supervisors Hearing Room in Santa Maria is located at the Betteravia Government Center, 511 East Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria. The Hearing Room is wheelchair accessible. Accessible public parking is available at the Betteravia Government Center.

American Sign Language interpreters, Spanish language interpretation and sound enhancement  equipment may be arranged by contacting the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by 4:00 p.m. on Friday before the Board meeting. For information about these services please contact the Clerk of the Board at (805) 568-2240.

Closed Session

The Board of Supervisors conducts a Closed Session between 12:00 P.M. and 1:00 P.M. and at 8:00 A.M. as necessary. Closed Sessions are not open to the public. Matters discussed during Closed Session include existing and pending litigation, personnel matters and real property negotiations. Actions taken by the Board during Closed Session will be announced during open session (Gov. Code Sections 54957.1(a) & (b), Ralph M. Brown Act). Members of the public may address the Board on Closed Session Agenda items during the General Public Comment period. For information related to Closed Session announcements please contact County Counsel at (805) 568-2950.