Two More Significant Projects

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   June 4, 2020

On Tuesday, June 2, the Montecito Association Land Use Committee tackled two significant projects in the works for Montecito: the Randall Road Debris Basin and the development project proposed for the Montecito Sanitary District, both of which are in the comment period of their respective environmental documents.

The Land Use Committee held a Q&A session with County reps for the Randall Road Debris Basin, which includes building a new off-channel debris basin on San Ysidro Creek at Randall Road and East Valley Road, an area that was heavily impacted during the 1/9 debris flow. The basin would be approximately eight acres on eight parcels, seven of which are owned by private property owners; the County has already acquired one of the parcels. The County also seeks to provide trail access, parking, and add native plantings as part of the project.

The $21 million dollar project is heavily reliant on FEMA funding, which Flood Control manager Tom Fayram said is putting a fast track on approvals. Land Use Committee members brought up concerns including hazardous materials, air quality during construction, removal of fill and associated truck trips, and closures on East Valley Road/Highway 192. With 87,000 cubic yards of material being removed from the site, it will take more than 6,000 truck trips to haul material away, which could have significant impacts on local traffic. The project site will be screened on the East Valley Road side, and the project is expected to take eight months to complete, with working hours of 7 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. The Land Use Committee will draft a letter with their concerns to be presented to the full Montecito Association Board of Directors next Tuesday, June 9.

Representatives from the Montecito Sanitary District were also on the call to answer questions about the Mitigated Negative Declaration for their project, which includes a new essential services building and associated improvements, a recycled water facility, and solar panels to power the facility. In April, the District applied for an emergency permit to build a portion of the essential services building in response to the COVID-19 crisis, to provide better sanitation facilities for their essential workers; that permit was denied and now the District is going through the approval process for the entire project.

General Manager Diane Gabriel reported that the Mitigated Negative Declaration will be voted on by the MSD Board next week, with hopes the project will be in front of the Montecito Planning Commission in the coming months. The new building will be built on a different portion of the five-acre campus, in order to abandon the access on Monte Cristo Lane and allow access on Channel Drive, and two water storage tanks will need to be built on land belonging to the Santa Barbara Cemetery, near the train tracks.

These two projects, in addition to upcoming County Road repairs ­– 28 lane miles of road and the construction of a temporary bridge at Cold Springs Trailhead is beginning next week­, paid for by settlement funds from California Edison in response to the Thomas Fire and debris flow – join other major projects slated for Montecito in the coming months and years, including the Sheffield Drive interchange project and the roundabouts slated for Olive Mill Road and San Ysidro Road. “They are all hitting the queue at once,” said MA Executive Director Sharon Byrne, while clarifying that actual construction will likely be at different times. Fayram said preliminary site preparation on the Randall Road debris basin site could take place as early as this fall, with actual construction starting in April 2021. The roundabouts are slated for 2023-2027, with the Sheffield Drive interchange taking place in a similar timeframe.

“These are six meaty, important projects that will affect Montecito infrastructure for years to come,” Byrne said. For more information, visit


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