Taking part in the process

The recent Times’ editorial, “Help draw blueprint for future,” may have left readers with the impression that local residents are disinterested in the long-range transportation plan prepared by the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, because just one person came to a recent workshop.

The workshop was, in fact, a public hearing, and was held near the end of a long planning process. Although just one person testified, a total of 11 people attended the hearing.

Last fall, SBCAG held four well-attended workshops around the county. Members of Santa Barbara County Action Network and dozens of other people participated in the round-table discussions. Most participants advocated increased public-transit options, putting housing near where people work, and building our communities by filling in existing urban areas. SB CAN and other organizations also testified at three SBCAG board meetings last fall, when the plan was in its formative stages.

Ultimately, SBCAG listened to this input and developed a good plan. Those of us who participated in the planning process are generally happy with the result. What we need now is for the cities and the county to follow the growth blueprint that underlies the transportation plan so commutes will be shorter, transit, walking and biking opportunities greater, and farmland better preserved.

SB CAN couldn’t agree more with the conclusion of the editorial — people need to share their thoughts about how this county should look and function in the future with their elected city and county representatives.

Letter to the editor published July 3, 2013 in the Santa Maria Times. By Ken Hough, executive director of SB CAN. He can be reached at [email protected].