Debris Basin Progress
At their hearing on Tuesday, August 18, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed debris basin on Randall Road. A draft of the report was released in early May.
The project, which is still in its design phase, 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, causing catastrophic damage to life and property. The project is proposed on eight parcels, seven of which are owned by private property owners and expected to be acquired by the County, now that the EIR is approved. The County has been in talks with all affected property owners; all but one of the properties was completely destroyed during the debris flow, causing loss of life on Randall Road as well as in the Glen Oaks area. Funding of the $21 million project is reliant on voluntary acquisition of the parcels.
As part of the project, San Ysidro Creek would be slightly re-aligned but would remain equivalent in channel length. Channel width is proposed to be widened in some parts where steep banks would be re-graded to a lower slope, effectively widening the jurisdictional portion of the creek. The County also seeks to provide trail access, parking, and add native plantings. According to the staff report, the debris basin would reduce potential flooding and debris flow impacts at Highway 192 and downstream infrastructure and properties. Long-term maintenance includes periodic vegetation maintenance, excavation of accumulated material after major flood events and/or wildfires, and irrigation upkeep and maintenance of the native plant restoration for two to five years until plants are established.
The Montecito Association submitted a letter of comment to the Board regarding the EIR approval, which included three areas the MA board of directors hoped to highlight. The letter asked for mitigation of visual impacts of the project, with a courtesy review of the plans by the Montecito Architectural Board of Review. They also asked the County to provide fill to local contractors, and to be mindful of the amount of heavy truck traffic on Highway 192 during construction. The project is expected to begin construction early next summer.
Lumped in with the approval of the Randall Road debris basin EIR, was approval of $1.5M of funding for the expansion of three other debris basins, including Romero Canyon, San Ysidro, and lower Mission Creek.
“Today we made tremendous progress on flood control,” said First District Supervisor Das Williams. “On behalf of the people of the First District, I thank you,” he said to the Board.