Montecito Association Sees San Ysidro Roundabout

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   November 14, 2019
The San Ysidro Roundabout was a topic of discussion at the Montecito Association meeting earlier this week

Santa Barbara County’s Deputy Director of Transportation Chris Sneddon was in front of the Montecito Association on Tuesday, giving a presentation on the roundabout slated for San Ysidro Road. 

The current intersection includes traffic from North Jameson, San Ysidro, and the northbound entrance and exit of Highway 101. The new roundabout ties each flow of traffic into a single-lane roundabout, and breaks up the asphalt with discreet decorative elements appropriate for the semi-rural nature of Montecito. Sneddon emphasized that the current intersection is extremely unsafe for pedestrians, which has been addressed in the new project. The plans include pedestrian access on every leg of the intersection, including crosswalks that connect with paved walkways through the medians or refuge areas, breaking up the expanse of asphalt into smaller sections for pedestrians to safely cross. The single lane roundabout also allows for bicycle accessibility, giving enough space for bicycles to traverse the lane, according to Sneddon. “The project is designed to keep the whole intersection moving slow, smooth, and without conflict points,” Sneddon said. 

Design elements for the project in addition to the pedestrian pathways include curvatures that encourage slowing through the roundabout, the elimination of conflict points at the intersection, increased landscaping, and a custom design for this location. The roundabout fits within the public right-of-way. “We are trying to keep traffic on the appropriate road it should be on. We don’t want people coming from Carpinteria to be on our neighborhood lanes,” Sneddon said. 

Several members of the public spoke, including neighbor Juergen Boehr, who has been a staunch opponent of the project. “It doesn’t help the pedestrians, and it doesn’t help the kids,” he said. “I think it’s a hazard, and there are other things that can be done.” Additional public comments at the MA meeting included concern over ADA access, the aesthetics of the roundabout, lighting, signage for the Miramar, and traffic flow. “In terms of accidents, the roundabouts are safer for pedestrians than stop signs,” said Kirsten Ayars, a consultant on the project.

The funding is secured through the environmental and permitting phases of the project through Senate Bill 1; the County will apply for continued funding in the spring of 2020. The construction of the project will take place as the same place of the Highway 101 widening. The preliminary engineering design of the roundabout is complete, with the preliminary landscaping plan currently in the works, and the lighting plan yet to be determined. The Design Working Group, which includes two members of MBAR and two MPC commissioners, are currently reviewing the project, followed by the full board of MBAR and MPC, which is expected in the coming months. 

The MA board will continue to monitor the progress of the project, allowing an opportunity for more public comment. 

In another conference agenda item, the MA board voted to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors regarding the 2019 Zoning Ordinance Package Amendments, asking the BOS to consider allowing a member of the Montecito Planning Commission to review future telecommunications applications. New FCC regulations aim to remove control over the placement of new cell phone antennas out of local jurisdictions, which could create aesthetic issues in the community. 

During Community Reports, Montecito Union Superintendent Dr. Anthony Ranii reported that the campus is set to be awarded $300K in state funds to fix fire alarms on campus, followed by $150K to fix aging windows. “We are applying for five million dollars more, in order to take on a much bigger project to address our aging infrastructure,” he said, adding that the school’s infrastructure is 70 years old. The school is also looking to take on a large-scale solar project. 

Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi gave an update on recent crime in Montecito in the last month, which included a DUI on Hot Springs at Coast Village Road, a vehicle burglary and petty theft on Danielson, theft of mail on East Valley Road, and a residential burglary on Ashley Road. 

The next MA meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 10. 

Helistop Update 

The Santa Barbara Planning Commission met on November 7 to hear from County Staff regarding Carpinteria Valley Farms owner Pat Nesbitt’s application for a helistop on his Summerland property. The hearing was a follow-up to a hearing in September, when three of four present planning commissioners moved to deny his application. The move required that County staff make the appropriate findings for denial and present them to the Commission at a future meeting.

Nesbitt, who originally sought permission for two landing pads on his property, has modified the request to one, seeking permission to land his private helicopter on an existing 10-acre grass field on his property, from the hours of 7 am to 7 pm. The helicopters would take the ocean route as opposed to the mountain route in order to avoid any potential disturbance to residences along the mountain route. Dozens of Carpinteria, Summerland, and Montecito residents have spoken at multiple meetings and hearings on the subject, the majority of whom are in opposition to the proposal for a variety of reasons: noise pollution, precedence, insufficiency of the environmental document, lack of regulation on the flight path, the number of weekly flights, and the hours of operation. 

County Staff identified several findings for denial of the project, including the fact that existing trails are located immediately adjacent to the property; the Summerland Community Plan states that “new development shall not adversely impact existing recreational facilities and uses.” According to the Staff Report, the proposed helistop would adversely impact the existing equestrian trail adjacent to the subject property due to the loud noise events caused by a helicopter flying overhead and during landing or taking off events at the site. “Noise events associated with helicopter traffic are percussive in nature and stand out against the existing ambient noise levels at the site. These loud and percussive noise events may startle horses being ridden on the equestrian trail and pose a safety threat to users of the trail. Therefore, the proposed project would not comply with the recreation policies of the Comprehensive Plan and this finding cannot be made,” reads the report. The site is also adjacent to a sensitive habitat, a recorded monarch roosting habitat, which would be adversely affected by the noise impacts. 

 Commissioners Michael Cooney, Laura Bridley, and John Parke made the required findings for denial, essentially voting in opposition to the helistop project. Commissioner Larry Ferini opposed findings, and Commissioner Daniel Blough abstained. Mr. Nesbitt has until Monday, November 18 to appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors. As of press time, an appeal had not yet been filed. 


You might also be interested in...