Montecito Association Meets

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   May 20, 2021
A preliminary rendering of the highway widening through Montecito, which includes removing trees and plantings in the median while adding landscaping and sound walls to the exterior of the freeway

Earlier this week, the Montecito Association Board of Directors was shown preliminary renderings of the design of the widening of the 101 Freeway, which will eventually widen the freeway to three lanes in each direction between Sycamore Creek in the city of Santa Barbara up to Romero Creek in Montecito. 

Design engineer Zach Siviglia showed photos of the freeway as it is now, as well as renderings of the freeway widening project, which includes reconstruction of the freeway bridges over Cabrillo Boulevard and a new southbound on-ramp (replacing the left-hand ramp removed years ago). Four new sound walls, ranging in height from 10 to 14 feet, are included in certain segments outside of the flood plain, and freeway bridges will be replaced at Montecito, San Ysidro, Oak, and Romero creeks. As reported last week, the design of the freeway includes natural materials including cobblestones, Santa Barbara sandstone, and native plantings, thanks to input from both the design review team and members of the community. 

Through much of the corridor, the median area will get smaller and existing trees and landscaping will be removed, with additional landscaping being added to the outside barriers. “The decision was made to widen the freeway in the middle, so we could add more landscaping to the outside and stay within the existing footprint of the freeway,” said project rep Kirsten Ayars. Drought-tolerant landscaping has been chosen for much of the project; there is also a recycled water component to the project, according to Ayars. The freeway bridges will feature a muted façade, arches, and timber railing on the barriers, to add to the design aesthetics. 

One of the most anticipated and highly debated portions of the project includes the reconstruction of the Hot Springs/Cabrillo Blvd interchange, which includes a roundabout and the replacement of the left side ramps with right side ramps. The interchange will also bring back the southbound onramp at Cabrillo Boulevard, which many residents and Coast Village Road business owners are eager to see. The southbound exit at Los Patos Way will be removed as part of the project. A nearby roundabout at Los Patos and Cabrillo is one of three local parallel projects being constructed in conjunction with the freeway widening.

The freeway project team will be back at the Montecito Association board meeting next month for further information. For more, visit

A new roundabout slated for the remodeled Hot Springs/Cabrillo Blvd interchange. The interchange will include the return of a southbound onramp at Cabrillo Blvd.

Also at the meeting, Montecito Water District manager Nick Turner reported that drought conditions are upon us, with Santa Barbara County currently in moderate to severe drought conditions, after only receiving 30% of average rainfall this past rainy season. Turner reported that MWD is considering purchasing additional supplemental water to add to the groundwater bank. He also said that customer water use has increased significantly, with an average of 25% increase in water usage.

“We are encouraging customers to continue to conserve as much as feasible,” he said, adding that customers can refer to their bill to see a consumption comparison from previous years. Montecito residents can consider drought-tolerant landscaping, removing grass, and employing storm water capture systems. “If customer water use continues like it has been, it’s going to make water supply planning more challenging,” he said. 

During community reports, Cold Spring School superintendent Dr. Amy Alzina refuted a recent letter published here in the Journal, which accused the school’s administration from hiding expenditures from Measure C funds. Dr. Alzina showed directions on how to find information on the $2.4M bond measure, which was spent in three different phases and included modernization of classrooms, the library, and restrooms, improvement of electrical and plumbing systems, roof replacement, playground and landscaping renovation, security system upgrades, and much more. “A lot of untruths have been spread,” Alzina said. 

For more on Measure C, visit


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